At Dwyer Group, one of our Code of Values is "Making our best effort to understand and appreciate the customer's needs in every situation." Sharlene Duffield is the Office Manager of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Texas, and she shares some great advice regarding customer relationships. Please enjoy the following article by Sharlene, as seen in Pipeline magazine, a Mr. Rooter publication.
Repairing the Relationship with an Angry Customer
Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are the front line for any business. They are normally the first point of contact when the customer calls to schedule an appointment, and also serve as the first contact for any complaints or issues with our service. When dealing with a disgruntled customer, there are several steps a CSR can take to help defuse the situation and come up with a solution that will satisfy all parties.
STEP 1 – EMPATHIZE WITH THE CUSTOMER
The first step is to empathize with the customer. I try to gain their trust and reassure them that I understand they are upset and that we will do whatever we can to resolve the issue. I sit quietly and let the customer vent their frustrations.
While doing that I also take notes so I can keep track of events or conversations that have taken place. These notes are also great to have as a reference when you are collecting your facts. You will be better able to resolve their concerns by having notes on specific issues, rather than relying on memory alone.
STEP 2 – STAY CALM
Staying calm is of utmost importance. It’s difficult to do so when you feel someone is being unreasonable. However, in the long run, your customer wants to feel that their business is important and that they matter to you and your company. Our Dwyer Group® Code of Values also encourages us to acknowledge everyone as right from their own perspective, and ask clarifying questions if we disagree or do not understand. I have found that if you start to feel yourself getting frustrated, you can put the customer on a brief hold, maybe to get the invoice in question or look back at their service history. This gives your caller a chance to calm down and provides time for you to gather your thoughts.
No common ground can be found when arguing with a customer.
STEP 3 - CONFIDENTLY OFFER RESOLUTION OPTIONS
Typically my next step is to find out exactly how the customer wants to move forward. This gives you a starting point to repair the relationship. Are they looking to get money back on work performed? Are they just calling to complain about the technician they had, or is the issue ongoing and they need us to come back out? This is a crucial point in the conversation. After they have explained what they are looking for, it is now the CSR’s turn to help where we can to resolve the complaint.
I always find giving options to the customer is the best way to resolve most issues. Refunding money will rarely resolve the customer’s issue, nor will it keep the customer. Refunds should be a last resort.
Often, digging a bit deeper into the issue and finding the root of the problem, and then explaining to the customer what step you recommend next, shows the customer you are going the extra mile for them and that you care for them and their plumbing. You should also exude confidence when speaking with the customer and offering options to repair the relationship.
All of us have been in situations where we were unhappy about services we have received. Think back to how you felt, how frustrated you were, or hurt that your hard-earned money was spent at a business that did not seem to care about you. Now think about how you wished that company or business would have handled the situation differently. Remember, when an upset customer calls, they want to be heard and they want a resolution. These are a few ways I have found over the years to hopefully repair relationships and keep customers happy and loyal to your business.