Handling difficult customers can be a challenge for even the most experienced employees — for inexperienced employees, it can spell disaster.
Handling difficult customers can be a challenge for even the most experienced employees — for inexperienced employees, it can spell disaster. According to a study by ZenDesk and Dimensional Research, 95 percent of customers who experience bad customer service share their experiences with others. Not only is a business likely to lose this type of customer, but their brand is likely to be further damaged when these unhappy customers tell friends and coworkers to avoid the business, post negative reviews or create content about their bad experiences, which could go viral on social media and never, ever go away.
New employees who are unprepared to deal with difficult customers may be caught off guard and inadvertently make a bad situation even worse. These five scripts can make handling difficult customers easier for inexperienced employees and help salvage customer relationships before they’re irreparably damaged.
The Customer is Always Right
When inexperienced employees internalize the mantra “the customer is always right,” they will respond to customer complaints from the perspective that there’s a solution to the problem, and it’s their job to find it. According to ZenDesk, 82 percent of consumers say they stopped doing business with at least one brand because of poor customer service. Good customer service is about putting the customer first — no matter who is in the wrong, the customer is always right.
The Fastest Solution is Always Best
The last thing a difficult customer wants to hear is that they’re going to have to wait. When customers are forced to wait to speak with management or wait for a refund, the delay leads to frustration and doubt. The longer a customer has to wait for answers, the more they perceive a business to be indifferent to their complaints. The faster the resolution, the better.
A Washington Post article points out that it’s not delayed response but the anxiety and uncertainty that builds up in the consumers’ minds while they wait that is the real problem. Unexplained delays can damage customer perception of the brand, causing them to leave and never come back. The faster their complaint can be resolved, the better, even if the solution is ineffective. Harvard Business Review notes that 33 percent of social users would recommend a brand that offered a fast-but-ineffective response, while only 17 percent said they would recommend a brand that provided a slow-but-effective solution, according to a Nielsen-McKinsey survey of social media users.
The Most Relevant Resolution is Always Ideal
Customer dissatisfaction isn’t always solved with a refund or even a replacement for a service or product that failed to meet their expectations. Training new employees to listen for specific keywords or the factors that triggered customer dissatisfaction may indicate that something else might actually be the most relevant resolution for handling a complaint. The more relevant the customer finds the employee’s response, the more likely they are to feel truly heard and understood.
The Option That Leaves the Door Open is Always the Goal
It can be tempting to choose an answer or resolution that sends a difficult customer on their way as quickly as possible. However, solutions that leave the door open with a dissatisfied customer, giving a business another chance to deliver on customer experience and expectations, is preferable to one that represents “the last time” a customer will ever come back. The more times a negative customer experience can be transformed into a saved customer relationship, the better; Forbes Insights and Service Source found that 51 percent of executives and senior management say that retaining customers is their primary goal.
The Ability to Follow Up is Critical
A new employee may feel that a difficult customer was placated, only to find out that the customer left even more unhappy than before. Obtaining a customer’s phone number or email address for the purpose of following up and offering to redress any remaining grievances can be key to preventing negative word of mouth and online reviews. It might take a full dozen positive brand interactions to make up for one negative one, according to a study by Parature.
Sooner or later, nearly every employee will deal with difficult or unhappy customers. Use these five scripts to turn inexperienced employees into customer satisfaction experts and give them the tools they need to diffuse confrontations and prevent damage to your brand’s reputation.