In my lifetime I have had two HORRIBLE customer service experiences. I am not talking about the company sent the wrong shoe size… I am talking about no one taking responsibility and solving my issue. Just thinking about these experiences makes me go into a panic attack. And if anyone would ask my opinion about these companies the answer would not be good at all… And we all know how valuable word of mouth is when trying to gain new customers.
My advice to all businesses is to develop an action plan that explains how your customer support team should handle a customer who has had a bad experience with your company. Here is a sample action plan:
Step One: What is the issue?
This is not the time to defend your company. Let the customer vent while you try to figure out the details of the issue. For example: is this a shipping issue, is this due to a dislike of the product, etc. No matter what the situation is – big or small – this client is upset and they need to vent to someone at the company. Do not try to defend yourself at this time – let the customer know that you understand their situation and that you are there to help.
Step Two: How can this be fixed?
Communicate with the customer on what you are going to do to resolve this issue. If you need to talk to a superior let the customer know. Get their contact information and keep them updated with information either by phone or email. This is a very crucial point – try to communicate with the customer as much as possible. If you do not have anything to report let them know that you are still working on the issue. Do not be afraid to over communicate with this customer. Communicate with the customer until the situation has been resolved.
Step Three: Reconcile
This is waiving the white flag for customer. You have solved the issue, but now it is time to try and salvage the relationship. What are you going to give your customer for them to “forget” about your recent problem? You could give them a $50.00 gift certificate to your store, you could give them free shipping for a year. Give them something to show that you are sorry… As my mom always says, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Step Four: Follow-up
When I have issues with a customer I always want to follow-up with them in a week or two to see how things are going and if there are any additional questions that may need to be answered.
This is just a starting point. By no means is this a set-in-stone process. Figure out what works for your company and put the plan in to action. Then the next time you have an unhappy customer, everyone will know exactly what is expected of them and how they are to resolve the issue.