The sole reason for the customer service position is to serve customers —to be of assistance, to help, to create value. When dealing with complaints, problems, and challenging customers, it’s easy to lose sight of our purpose as service professionals.
No matter how difficult the circumstance or the customer, we must never lose sight of our goal. To help keep you in “check,” I am providing my list of 7 unforgivable sins of customer service employees. Read on to see how you measure up.
1. Hanging up on a customer
We all know it happens and there are certainly many times you want to slam the phone down but do think twice. Patience, diplomacy, and professionalism can help you remain calm and above the customer’s ill-bred attitude.
2. Arguing with a customer
You can never win an argument with a customer. Theoretically, you can prove your point, but you may end up losing your customer, so you really lose.
3. Saying, “This is all I can do.”
You are there to help. Give your customer options and look for every way you can help.
4. Telling a customer to calm down
Certainly, there are times when a gentle disposition would make everyone’s life easier, but telling your customer to calm down is rarely useful. Like you, your customers don’t like to be told what to do. Try this approach instead: “Clearly you’re upset, and I want you to know that getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.” (For more help in this area, see my “Helpful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult Customers” blog post.)
5. Escalating voice
Avoid the temptation to yell just because your customer is yelling. You don’t want to get caught up in their drama. Instead, remain centered and calm, relying on your ability to communicate with diplomacy and professionalism.
6. Telling a customer s/he is wrong
You will be smart to never tell a customer they are wrong or mistaken. Telling a person they are wrong arouses opposition and will make the customer want to battle with you. (Ever tell your spouse they are wrong?) In “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie points out an indisputable fact, “it’s difficult, under even the most benign conditions to change people’s minds.” So why make it harder by starting out on the wrong foot? If you know your customer is wrong, it’s better to start off saying, “I thought the contract read otherwise, but let’s take a look.”
7. Failing to apologize to customers in the wake of problems
One of the easiest and quickest ways to diffuse anger, create rapport, and regain goodwill with unhappy customers is to apologize. Offering an apology to a customer who experiences a problem should be a natural response from customer service providers. Yet, recent research reveals the startling fact that 50% of customers who voice a complaint say they never received an apology.
Not only does an apology give “soft benefits” such as creating calm, shaving minutes off of talk time, less stress on the employee, etc., it can also translate into significant and measurable savings in reduced lawsuits, settlement costs, and defense costs.
An apology does not have to be an admission of fault. It can be offered to express regret. For example, “I’m so sorry for any inconvenience this misunderstanding has caused you.”
Avoid the 7 cardinal sins of customer service professionals, and you will find that dealing with unhappy customers is much, much easier.
Now you can give your representatives even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience and for handling difficult customer situations. Sign up for my email list and learn specific tips, approaches, and phrases to help your employees help your customers.