Customer service is extremely important for any kind of business that provides services to the public. If a customer feels that they are unable to trust a company, they are unlikely to return as a customer. If you want to retain your customers and gain even more, you will need to offer great customer service.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of common challenges that companies face when carrying out customer service, and they can be difficult to deal with. It is best to be prepared for these challenges and know what to do when you face them. Here we have listed some of the most common challenges that have to be dealt with during customer service.
How to Deal with Angry Customers
Before we go into the specific challenges, it is worth exploring some of the basics of dealing with upset or angry customers. This is likely to happen for a number of reasons, and these tips and conflict resolution techniques are worth remembering in any customer service situation.
Listen to the Customer Complaint First
It is important to listen to what the customer says in its entirety before acting. Listening is an essential first step of any interaction with a customer.
Showing understanding and empathy is vital, as you need to make the customer feel not only heard but also understood. You can show empathy by using a soft tone of voice rather than an uninterested or confrontational one, and verbal softener words like “often”, “likely”, and “possibly”, rather than concrete words like “never” or “always”.
Do Not Show Disagreement
It is not about your opinion, but about the customer’s experience. If the customer shows anger, do not respond in kind. If possible, find things to agree on, as this primes the customer to see you as on their side.
Stay Focused on the Issue at Hand
Angry customers may start complaining about other things that are not relevant to the issue. Gently steer the conversation back to the issue and offer solutions.
If possible, try to speak with the customer somewhere out of earshot of other customers or employees.
Know When to End the Interaction
In some instances, you will not be able to resolve the problems of an angry customer. If this is the case, or a customer becomes abusive, politely yet firmly end the interaction. It is important that your employees feel safe and respected while working.
How to Apologize for a Mistake
If the customer is angry because of a genuine mistake or fault of the company, make sure that you apologize. Take ownership of the mistake rather than passing the buck. When in doubt, think of the HEARD Technique—Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, and Diagnose.
After apologizing, offering the customer a refund or a future discount can help you to retain the customer.
What Specific Customer Service Challenges Are You Likely to Face?
So, what specific challenges is your company likely to face when it comes to customer service? Here are some of the most common, and what you can do to resolve them.
Being Unable to Answer a Question
Even the most well-trained customer service teams can sometimes be caught off-guard with questions that they simply can’t answer. If this is the case, the best thing to do is transfer the customer to an employee who will know the answer. If you cannot do this instantly, take a note of their query and offer to call them back as soon as you have the answer.
Service Outages or Errors
This one is particularly common among companies that offer software or IT solutions. The first thing to do in this case is to apologize. You should also have developed a company-wide plan of action for emergencies. Let the customer know that the company is working to rectify the error as quickly as possible.
You should also keep your customer or customers updated on each stage of fixing the problem, as they are probably waiting for the service to become available again. Once the problem is resolved, make sure that the customer knows that you have taken steps to avoid it happening again in the future.
A Request Is Made That You Cannot Grant
Customers often make requests that are impossible to carry out. This may be a customer asking for a discount that it is against company policy to provide, or it may be a request that goes against any other aspect of company policy. In this case, politely explain to the customer why this policy is in place, and how the policy makes the company’s services or products as good as they can be.
What Changes to Your Procedures Can Assist Customer Service?
As well as learning techniques to improve your customer service, you may also find it useful to make changes to your company procedures in order to increase the efficiency of dealing with customer queries.
Hire a Dedicated Customer Service Team
Depending on the size of your company, hiring a dedicated customer service team may well be possible. There are many advantages to this; you can implement specialized training for this team, hire members based on their customer service skills, and free up time for other employees who may otherwise have to balance customer service with other tasks.
Implement a Live Chat Function on Your Website
If your company is large and has many customers who may be attempting to get in touch with your customer service team, it may be inefficient to rely just on a phone number and an email address (although, of course, it is still best to have these). Implementing a live chat solution on your website adds an extra channel of communication and enables customers to ask questions quickly and conveniently without having to wait for a while on hold.
Use a Support Tickets System
When plenty of different customers raise issues simultaneously, it can often be tricky for administrators to keep track of everything. Implementing a support tickets system can not only give a record of communication to the customer but can also increase your ability to keep track of everything that is going on.