Restoring Your Relationship And Reputation With Your Customers
In a small business that offers specific products or services to a particular customer base, customer service and communication is a key part of a company that earns a favorable reputation and operates successfully. Even when you provide the best possible service and do everything you can to satisfy your customers, customer service disasters and dissatisfactions are bound to occur every now and then — and dealing with these issues properly and with poise is just as important as providing excellent service in the first place.
How can you gracefully and graciously recover from a customer service failure without losing heart or losing customers? Here are some helpful steps and strategies to guide you in customer service recovery:
- ListenWhenever a customer has a complaint, concern, or any kind of issue, your first step in addressing the problem needs to be uninterrupted listening. No matter what the customer is saying, whether their point is valid or whether you’re really at fault for their dissatisfaction, give them your undivided attention and allow them to explain what went wrong from their point of view.During this step, don’t interrupt, contest, or question the customer in any way. Letting your customers express their frustration is key to gaining back their trust and proceeding toward resolving the issue.
- Acknowledge and ApologizeWhen you’ve heard the customer’s side of the story, your next step should be to acknowledge the situation and offer a sincere apology that the customer has had to endure any trouble. Even if the issue isn’t your fault or you’re not sure what you can do, it’s important not to contest or undermine the validity of the customer’s feelings and frustrations.By acknowledging and apologizing for the confusion, you demonstrate your willingness to hear your customer, show them you care about their trouble, validate their feelings of frustration, and express your empathy, regret, and recognition of whatever they’ve been through. This will help the customer calm down, and they’ll appreciate your effort, even if they’re still upset.
- Respond and ResolveAfter you understand the situation and the customer’s issue, engage your customer in a conversation to clarify and expand further on what went wrong. Having a fuller comprehension of the problem will help you react appropriately and take steps toward resolving the problem in the best way possible.Just make sure to always be mindful of the customer when clarifying or questioning — do so gently, empathetically, and with respect for the customer’s perspective. Never take an argumentative or uncaring attitude, even when you’re frustrated.When you’re confident you fully grasp all the details of the customer’s complaint, viewpoint, and the accompanying situation, come up with a plan for solving the problem and explain to your customer exactly what you will do to resolve the issue. Spell out the terms of the resolution to make sure they are agreeable to the customer, then make the customer aware of when they can expect you to follow through with your promise. Next, take the necessary steps to resolve the issue as agreed upon.
- Follow up and EvaluateAfter you take care of the issue and follow through with whatever you’ve promised your customer, make sure to follow up and evaluate to ensure the issue is permanently closed. Check in with whomever you’ve assigned the task to as well as with the customer to ensure everything has gone according to your promise. Be sure to document the issue or error to evaluate what went wrong.The positive part of a customer service failure is the opportunity to learn from the situation. After you’ve listened to your customer, acknowledged the issue, responded, resolved the problem, and followed up, take the time to use this as a learning opportunity to benefit your business in the future.