No matter how solid your business operations are, problems are bound to arise. Items get back-ordered, orders get shipped incorrectly, and shipments get lost or damaged in transit. If mishandled, these business blunders can lead to bad reviews that linger indefinitely under every Google search. Many of these unsatisfied customers will ultimately just take their business elsewhere, which still impacts your bottom line.
Some troubles are avoidable. For example, if you have an e-commerce business and use a trusted 3PL partner, you can mitigate logistics troubles from the get-go. For the troubles that are not avoidable, being fully prepared with strong customer relations policies can limit damage to your brand and reputation. While never ideal, these mishaps don’t have to be the end of the world. If managed properly, these opportunities can actually forge some of your fiercest and most loyal advocates. So, try these strategies for solving your customers’ problems the first time, every time.
Make Contact Simple
When a customer encounters an issue, they typically want it resolved fast and with as little effort as possible. There is less chance for escalation when your customer can quickly connect with someone who can fix their problem. Providing multiple avenues of contact allows customers to get the help they need in the way they want it. Phone, email, website contact forms, social media, or chatbots—when it comes to customer service, more options are better.
Making your business easily accessible shows your customers your interest in them doesn’t end with their purchase. Be sure your agents are confident in their knowledge of your goods or service. Prioritize training them thoroughly for expeditious and effective resolutions as well. Arm your contact center with top-of-the-line tools to manage various chat platforms, route calls, and track metrics. With the right resources, you can streamline your operations while fully supporting staff and providing outstanding service.
Listening is the crucial first step on the path to a successful resolution. Thank your customer for reaching out and let them know that you intend to find a satisfactory solution. Try to let your customer vent without interrupting. Occasionally, a customer will just need to feel heard to calm down. However, in most situations, some definitive action will need to be taken for the customer to feel compensated for their troubles.
Meeting customer problems with empathy and understanding can go a long way in diffusing tense situations. Listen actively to ensure that you understand exactly what went wrong so that you can begin to set things right. Repeat back their concerns in your own words to avoid miscommunications that will cost your customer more of their time. Less time spent reaching a resolution means less chance for minor issues to potentially spiral into major problems.
Ask the Right Questions
Once your customer has vented their concerns and frustrations, offer a sincere apology and begin asking questions. You’ll want to clearly identify what went wrong. Understanding the root causes of a customer’s issues will aid in arriving at the best solutions. It can also indicate whether there are larger issues at play that you’ll need to address.
Get a clear picture of how the customer has been affected. Ask the customer what they need from you to feel their issue has been resolved. Be thorough in gathering this information as this knowledge can help solve similar problems. It may even enable you to potentially avoid some future issues altogether. Well-documented customer concerns will help to improve your business going forward.
No matter the problem, assure the customer that you will work toward finding an adequate solution. Be generous in offering direct compensation, such as refunds, returns, or replacement orders. Be flexible and try to accommodate the customer’s preferences. If possible, grant your representatives the ability to make these judgment calls for themselves. Moving customers up the chain of command only forces them to lose more of their time.
In addition to directly fixing their problem, you may want to give additional compensation to help with customer retention. Provide gift cards or discount coupons for their next purchase to encourage them to remain a customer. This will hopefully give you the chance to rebuild their loyalty and trust. The customer will feel like you’ve gone above and beyond, and hopefully, you will retain the customer relationship.
Once you have implemented a resolution for your customer, there is still more to be gained from the opportunity. Reach back out to your customer to be sure the solution fully met their expectations. This shows them that you took their problem seriously and value sustaining the relationship. Ask them what can be done to improve service going forward.
Feel free to communicate what steps were taken internally to ensure their problem won’t be repeated in the future. Most customers appreciate knowing their experiences, good or bad, have had a real influence on how your business is conducted. If all has gone especially well, you might even consider asking your customer to leave an online review.
Occasional problems are inevitable in any business. However, these hurdles can be used as opportunities to strengthen customer relations as well as business processes. Employ ample contact methods, quality call center training and tools, and swift and generous solutions when difficulties arise. While getting things right the first time is the ultimate goal, you can also strive to solve any problems the first time, every time!