Tag: Customer Recovery

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On How to Write the Best Complaint Response Emails

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An apology, empathy, and an explanation of why the problem happened are the keys to writing complaint response letters that restore customer confidence.  

One of the things I do in my practice is write the templates for complaint response letters for some of world’s most renowned brands. My work usually starts with me throwing out all robotic and boring messages that are in use.

Then, I custom create response letters that reflect the brand’s voice. Once I get the brand voice down, my complaint response letters follow 5 steps.

The 5 steps ensure that the complaint response letter restores customer confidence and regains goodwill. Here are my 5 steps with great examples from great companies that know how to regain customer goodwill after the worst has happened.

1. Apologize

Making an apology to customers after things go wrong is positively related to satisfaction with the recovery. When a service employee apologizes to a customer, she conveys politeness, courtesy, concern, effort, and empathy.

Take a look at this outright apology from JetBlue Airlines after a major service mishap. (See the first sentence of JetBlue’s response)

You Have to Acknowledge a Customer’s Anger. Here’s Why.

A common mistake I hear customer service professionals make when I perform quality checks is ignoring the customer’s expression of anger.

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There is something known as the communication chain. When people communicate, they expect the person they are communicating with to respond or react…this response is a link in the communication chain. A failure to respond to communication leaves the communication chain broken.

For example, If I open a customer service training with “Good morning!”…and the audience is dead silent, they’ve broken the communication chain. And that leaves me feeling awkward, perhaps embarrassed. I’d have the uncomfortable feeling that the workshop would not go well, based on the lack of acknowledgement.

If a customer expresses anger and we fail to respond to it, the communication chain is broken and the customer feels like they are not getting through. The customer might become even angrier and more difficult, as they are resorting to whatever it takes to feel heard and understood.

Sorry Works! The Bottom-line Benefit of Apologizing to Customers

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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 percent of customers who voice a complaint never receive an apology from the organization.

Not only does an apology provide “soft” benefits such as creating calm, shaving minutes off of talk time, reducing stress on the employee, etc., but it can also translate into significant and measurable savings in decreasing lawsuits, settlement costs, and defense costs.

Doctors and hospitals are beginning to discover what savvy customer service professionals have always known: sorry works. A new program for doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators called Sorry Works encourages doctors and hospitals to apologize quickly when mishaps occur and to offer a fair settlement upfront to families and their attorneys. The Sorry Works program has resulted in a dramatic drop in lawsuits. The University of Michigan hospital recently implemented Sorry Works and reports that the number of pending cases has dropped and defense attorney fees decreased from $3 million to $1 million annually. Clearly, sorry does, indeed, work.

Does a 2 million dollar savings based solely on an apology sound too good to be true? Let me walk you through exactly why sorry indeed does work… here are the facts: