Bottom line. Customers contact you when they are frustrated. Your job is to un-frustrate them. Here are some really great tips from a customer care agent, even if you don't have a customer care title. Super quick read 'How to Deal With Rude People, According to a Customer Service Rep' from O Magazine's April 2017 issue.
The entirety of that text is shown here, plus, I have included highlights and my own notes below the article.
By Annie D., customer service representative in New York City
My client is a grocery chain, and the customers never fail to surprise me. People call to complain about a $3 package of fruit and act like you murdered their firstborn. They'll say, "I bought this seven days ago, and it went bad!" We can't say, "Tough luck, toots"—we're in the fixing business, and I have to appease them.
Right off the bat, I acknowledge what the caller's saying and try to make them understand that there's a solution: I hear you, that stinks, but look at this positive thing! Most of the time, that does it—they know you're on their side.
But sometimes they just want to rant for ten minutes and get it out: "How could this happen?!" One woman called, and her first words were, "I am disgusted. I can't believe this. This is a disgrace!" It turned out she was upset that the grocery store had decorated too early for Christmas.
People call and scream, then hang up, feeling glad that they stuck it to the Man. Of course, I'm just the Little Lady, who does this so she can work from home and be with her kids. Still, I always remind myself that you never know what someone's going through—people's dogs die, their cars break down. You have to put yourself in their shoes.
4 great takeaways from this brief article:
1. You are in the fixing business - here's the thing - you know how your organization works from the inside out. The customer really doesn't have a clue about possible solutions. So, help them out! They aren't the enemy.
BTW - when communicating with the customer, don't linger on WHY an issue is what it is - they really don't care. What they want to know is what you're going to DO about it.
2. Try to make them understand that there's a solution - Part of your role is not just to make them understand that there is a solution, but to supply that solution. MANY unhappy customers haven't even thought through what they want. They just know that they aren't happy and need to tell someone...and, that someone would be you.
3. Let them know you are on their side - think about it, how many times have you procrastinated on lodging a complaint when you have been an unhappy customer? First, you probably questioned yourself on if it was worth pursuing. Next, you played out every demeaning, belittling possible reaction that you thought you might get from the customer service person when you went to complain*.
So, when you ARE the customer service person, assure your customer that they did not make a mistake in contacting you.
4. You never know what someone's going through - this may be the understatement of the year! OMG - EVERY-ONE is going through something!
Your empathy and understanding may be just the thing that your customer needs to push through this issue towards a brighter day.
Yes, you really do hold that power. Use it wisely.
*For every customer who bothers to complain, there are 26 others who are unhappy about the same issue, but remain silent.
Need a bit more conflict & customer care guidance? Help is right here at Volunteer Relations.com.