Convert Angry Customers into Business Promoters
Big corporate houses and small businesses; both have almost the same approach when it comes to handling irate customers. Corporate houses spend a fortune to set and maintain customer service departments. But the process and skills of these customer service departments often add to the frustrations of unhappy customers rather than helping them out. Most CEOs and entrepreneurs think that the only response apt for unhappy customers is “we are sorry for the inconvenience”. But what if you were to find out that not only can you manage irate customers but also make them promote your business? It’s not just some whimsical thought. In fact, some innovative and broad-minded firms have successfully managed to do it.
So, what magical element have these firms come across? Well, before we understand the ‘magic’, let’s get an insight on their approach and thought process.
The general tendency of an average customer service executive is to ‘tackle’ a customer by parroting responses from their manuals. Imagine… actually, forget imagining. Try to recollect your last experience as an unhappy customer with some company’s customer support. High chances, you got in touch with them due to some issue with a certain product, and the person on the other end (of phone or mail) failed to provide you any satisfactory response. You must have received multiple apologies, but hardly any solution. You might have strongly expressed your frustrations, but they wouldn’t have budged from their parroted responses. As a customer, you might be annoyed, but now, if you were to change seats… Well, then as a businessperson you are likely to say, ‘what else could they do, these things happen! ‘What does that point to? Lack of ownership.
You have to keep an open mind; your products and services can’t be the ultimate stuff always. And irate customers do not contact you to waste your time, but to express their grievances. Never ‘tackle’ a customer, instead understand their concern. You never know, in their complaints somewhere there might be a new feature for your product, hidden in disguise. Or possibly the customer may have simply misunderstood certain aspects of your services because of some mistake in your advertisement. You need to monitor, evaluate and analyse the kinds of situations and calls that are managed by your customer service department. If a customer mentions a problem, the executive needs to sound genuinely interested in checking the problem. If an immediate solution is not possible, a call-back should be offered and provided on time.
Ok, this seems like a good thing to do, but is there a real benefit? Research studies have shown that unhappy customers, who receive proper support and solution, are more interested to provide word-of-mouth publicity than other customers. Reason? We all feel valued when we are heard, and we cannot hold ourselves from sharing that experience with people whom we know. Advertisements bind consumers with products, but good customer service binds consumers with product’s makers.
Work with your customer service team
As a business owner, you might have understood the importance of taking ownership, but what about your team. You cannot just pass a circulation and expect them to follow your footsteps. You need to closely and regularly work with them. Explain them that bringing additional business is not just the sales team’s responsibility but theirs too. A situation with an angry customer yelling a complaint is not something to worry about, but something to study. Conduct training programs to groom your executives for people-skills.
Here are a few basic things which customer support teams should be aware of:
- Listening patiently and attentively is the first step in helping troubled customers. Acquiring complete information on the customer’s complaint is highly important. Calling a customer back to ask information, which they have already provided, only annoys them further.
- If a customer has been offered a call-back, it should be provided on a timely basis.
- Until an issue is resolved, constant contact should be maintained with the respective customer. If possible, updates on work-in-progress must be shared with them. (Do not give them too many calls, hampering their work schedule.)
- Details of complaint calls must be tracked all the time. If a customer offers a suggestion for any type of improvement, it should be acknowledged and routed to respective departments.
- After a solution is provided, executives must politely insist for feedback. These feedback sessions often provide an ideal opportunity to request for references.
Some companies even encourage their account managers to share their direct contact numbers with their clients. This way, if the client is facing problems with customer support, they can immediately get in touch with the relevant account manager. Not all companies can afford to do it. But whichever companies can, should follow this practice.
Another big area to focus – social websites and forums
These days, it’s a child’s play to speak your mind on the net. Whether people like something or dislike something, they instantly circulate the information through social websites. Keep a good watch on all such sites where things related to your business are discussed. If there’s a negative feedback for your firm floating around, deal with it before it turns into a wave and washes out your reputation.
Responding online, to customer’s complaints and addressing their issues, can build your firm’s image to be recognized as a trustworthy firm. The visibility of positive feedback from satisfied customers can do more wonders than paid advertising campaigns. More than trusting marketing gimmicks, consumers trust each other’s experiences while checking up on a company.
Business houses spend a lot of money on marketing campaigns to promote their products, but they rarely tap into the resourcefulness of existing customers. Gone are the days when customer support was not considered as a revenue-generation source. Today’s modern entrepreneurs and CEOs know the strong potentials of customer support teams and they easily spot the opportunities hidden in the complaints of the so-called irate customers. They educate their managers and teams to efficiently handle situations and work on providing the best possible solutions, rather than ‘tackling’ the customers.
Ensure that your business does its best too, to smartly convert complaining-customers into brand promoting-customers. It is all in the approach!