Interactions with Customers isn’t a perfect science but there are five vital factors that, if you get them right, will lead to happy customers, a happy business, and a happy you!
Setting expectations is one of the single most valuable things that you can do in business. When you first interact with a customer, as long as they’re aware of the dynamics of your product or service and have the proper expectations as to what they can anticipate when interacting with you and your business they will come out of their transaction a happier customer and person.
“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” -Antonio Banderas
Be clear about the options available in resolving their issue (or the products available, or how your services work) and be detailed in the scope of your services. If they know from the start what you can and can’t do, they will be more agreeable and have less of an ability to squeeze more out of you than you’re willing or able to do.
When a customer complains about your company, service, or product always answer them as soon as you can. Even a day’s delay can seriously upset a disgruntled customer and lead to a snowball effect of unhappiness on both parties’ parts.
And when answering them, look to be as professional as possible. Understand that no matter how awesome your product or service is, or how much care you put into dealing with your clientele, in your business life, you will run into a discontent client sooner or later. It’s simply a facet of business. Customer Service… it may not even be your fault. A client could easily be angry about something entirely different but you turn out to be that straw that broke the camel’s back.
A lot of people simply complain because they’re having a bad day and it’s not because they’re bad people. Your best clients may actually be the people who may start off with problems, but by taking them seriously and coming at their issues with care and understanding you can change their attitudes and made them some of your most loyal customers.
Be Confident but don’t break the Golden Rule
Portray confidence in your work, even if you’re new and unsure. If you’re not confident in your abilities, the customer won’t be either. But don’t be rude. Take the high road. Never get frustrated with a customer. Everything they say should be taken as valid. Always empathize with what they are going through even if it’s totally their fault. Again, you don’t know if they just had a loss in their family or just got divorced. It’s not personal. Be a friend to this stranger and help them out, never go off the rails on them.
As for empathy statements, let them know that you’ve been in their place before, and you’re interested in helping them the way you’ve been helped. If appropriate, try relating personal anecdotes and past resolutions. Make sure they remember that you’re a human being too, with feelings and hopes and disappointments just like everyone else. It’s surprisingly easy for customers and clients to de-humanize service representatives, and will treat those they do accordingly. On the other side of that coin, keep in mind the same things for your clients. They put socks on in the morning too, they sometimes forget to brush their teeth, and they want what they feel is best for them and those they care about. Remember the Golden Rule:
Treat others the way You want to be treated.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Even so, if you have set expectations, answered them timely AND treated them to the best of your ability, sometimes people will still be rude. Don’t take things personally, even when it feels you’re being personally targeted by their attitude. That said, don’t accept outright abuse. Feeling abused is a relative concept for each person, and will change over time with your level of experience. My personal rule of thumb is if I begin to get a significantly elevated heart rate and start stumbling over my words, it’s time to hit the brakes and approach things from a different angle.
While the saying is used against its original meaning, the customer is only “always right” when they have a legitimate, reasonable concern. If someone has unrealistic expectations or attitudes, it should be within your right as a representative of your company to correct their expectations, or, if need be, (as politely as possible) refuse service.
Make it a point to be sure that your customer service is fast, responsive, and humble.
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