Every service provider knows that the customer is not always right. But the customer is always the customer. You don’t have to tell the customer you were wrong, but you should apologize for the inconvenience they’ve experienced. When you do so, you’re showing understanding and empathy for their discomfort, displeasure or inconvenience.
6. Explain the company’s desire to improve.
When you understand what the customer values, show them things your company does that helps you perform well in that area. For example, let’s say a customer is complaining because an equipment repair took longer than expected. You would say, “We understand that quick, timely repairs are important to our customers”. The unhappy customer will probably say, “But you failed in my case and the repair took a long time”.
Calmly explain to the customer what caused the repair to take so long (waiting on a part that wasn’t in stock, a rush of repair orders, etc.). Then reassure the customer by explaining how you are working to find a solution (more parts in stock, hire an additional technician in peak months, investing in a Business Management System for better scheduling and tracking of repairs, etc.)
Show you are sincere about your commitment to do well in the areas the customer values. At the very least, you can say you will make sure everyone in the company hears their story and won’t let it happen again. When you express the company’s desire to improve, you start on the path to rebuilding its credibility with the customer.
7. Educate your customer.
Part of hearing the customer out is answering any questions they ask about their specific situation. It's important you can provide additional, useful information. If they ask a question that you can’t answer or don’t know the answer to, tell them you’ll find out the answer and quickly get back to them.
Actually follow through on this promise. Contact the customer with the answers they requested, and even if they might not have requested an update about their situation, get back in touch with them with one anyway. These are additional opportunities for you to show through your actions that you care about the customer and value their business.
8. Contain the problem.
Let’s say a family is at a crowded theme park on a hot day. The youngest child in the group starts to have an all-out meltdown. Suddenly, a theme park staff member sweeps onto the scene and whisks the family into a special room. Inside, they find an air conditioned room with water and other beverages, an ice cream machine, a bathroom, a comfortable sitting area, etc. The only thing missing in the room is any connection to the theme park’s brand. That’s because this room is used to isolate customers from the brand until they’re all—parents and children—having a more pleasurable experience.
The room is also being used to isolate the unhappy family from the families outside the room who are enjoying their day at the theme park. And finally, they’re being isolated from some park staff who may not be as well-prepared as the staff member who brought the family to the room to handle these sticky situations.
That’s how you contain a problem. Have a knowledgeable employee who works well with customers pull the individual inside an office to address the individual's concern. It shows the customer that they have your undivided attention while at the same time keeping their discontent off the showroom floor and away from other customers.
Show the customer you care about them, even if you feel the company did everything right, by making them an offer. Companies worry that they’ll get taken advantage of if they give vouchers, discounts or freebies as part of their service recovery, but the reality is that almost never happens.
Offer the customer something and then explain that you’re doing so as a gesture of goodwill or as a token of appreciation. Sears takes recovery seriously. The company now has a "blue ribbon team" of specially educated and empowered staff to handle recoveries. Once an issue goes to them, anything they recommend is what gets done. They have full support from the top down. Sears does this because the company understands that a successfully recovered customer can become your most loyal advocate and ally. Develop a protocol with staff for handling vouchers or compensation for customer complaints.