Your customer is angry because someone dropped the ball. Whether it was you, your wife, your employee, or your dog, it doesn’t matter; all that matters is the customer is upset. What questions will you be asking yourself?
- What’s going to happen next?
- Will they tarnish my Better Business Bureau rating?
- Was it bad enough that news stations might care?
- Will the customer go to twitter with their experience?
- Will they tell their friends and family?
- Will they ever buy from us again?
A lot of really bad things can come from this bad customer experience, and you never know what the fall out will look like. The customer might just brush it off, or the customer may become your biggest, most outspoken critic.
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Customer Service to the Rescue
Customer service isn’t just for technical support, and it isn’t just meant for your happy customers. Customer service is an ongoing commitment to your customers to support their needs and address their concerns. Regardless of their current demeanor, your customer service should be there to help them through the difficulties even if it must be done while they are angry.
Customer service doesn’t necessarily mean you need a call center working 24 hours to make your customer happy. When I say customer service, this could simply mean you calling the customer, and committing to help them iron out this issue, no matter what it takes. It would probably mean more to them for the owner to take care of the issue anyways.
What Should Customer Service Do?
In short, customer service should leave your customer feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside. It should make them feel like they are the only customer you have on this Earth, and that you appreciate them. If your customer doesn’t have this, then your customer service needs work.
Your customer service should be proactive and get to the customer before they get to you, wherever possible. If you are made aware of an egregious error before the customer contacts you, then you better be on the phone right away alerting them, apologizing, and correcting it. If you are proactive in this, then you might prevent them from looking bad as well.
Proactive Customer Service Example
Consider this example: if Honda buys computers from Company X, and Company X realizes there was a bad component that causes the computer to fail after 50,000 miles, then Company X can either stay quiet, wait for Honda to be hit with lawsuits and bad publicity, or Company X can let them know, apologize, take the repair cost on the chin, and potentially save the business relationship.
Even if they lose the relationship, at least they made the responsible decision, and it didn’t cost them their reputation. It is better to lose a relationship, than a reputation!
Turning Angry Customers Into Cheerleaders
If you want your angry customer to turn into a cheerleader for you, then you need to exceed their expectations. Amazing customer service goes beyond fixing the immediate problem. One of my favorite teachers in high school told the class “if you do everything that I expect of you on this list, then you will have earned a C grade.” You don’t get applause for meeting expectations, you must go beyond expectations.
This means you should do some of the following:
- Apologize and acknowledge the problem. (Never make them feel like they are ridiculous!)
- Fix the immediate problem.
- Do it with a smile.
- Throw in extras, or give a discount.
- Follow up! (I can’t stress this point enough)
- Thank them for their business, and let them know you value them.
Think of a time when you’ve called into phone support for something and you felt belittled, unvalued, and mocked. You could hear the sneer in the person’s voice as they condescendingly “try to help.” In addition to that, when any sign of the issue being resolved appears, they are rushing you off the phone. This is an iconic example of terrible customer service.
I can’t stress following up enough. Nothing says “we value your business” more than an unsolicited call from you asking “how is everything working? Did we meet your expectations? Is everything resolved? Is there anything else we can do for you? What could we have done better?” A call like that will probably have your customers pinching themselves wondering if they are even awake.