No matter how difficult the circumstance or the customer, we must never lose sight of our purpose. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Saying, "This is all I can do." You are there to help. Give your customer options and look for every way you can help.
- Telling a customer to calm down. Certainly, there are times when a calm disposition would make every one's life easier, but telling your customer to calm down is rarely effective. 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."
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
Myra Golden is an award-winning professional speaker and principal of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC, a customer service training firm serving clients in food and beverage, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and other industries. Her client list includes McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin Tires, Pirelli, and Procter & Gamble, among many others.
For hundreds of ideas for customer service improvement for use in customer service training, visit the customer service training resource portal by going to http://www.totalcustomerservicetraining.com