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Best Method to Handle Irate Customers Is the ‘Great’ Method



Question: How can we better remind employees to handle irate customer encounters with more professionalism?


Answer:

When it comes to handling angry customers who feel underserved, not heard or not appreciated, it’s often about doing the little things that can make it end up right.

Don’t forget that companies large and small have been sued by unhappy customers who were merely looking for a little compassion, humility and an apology from the frontline employees they were dealing with.

The solution is not to round up your customer-contact employees and give them classes on how to be nice to customers.

Many employees chafe when dragged into what they perceive as “smile training” programs, designed to make them more friendly.

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These programs teach platitudes and dubious techniques, like using the customer’s name frequently, memorizing catchy service slogans or smiling constantly, even over the telephone.

It’s not always easy to get employees who are tired, frustrated, apathetic or acting like “Bozos” (bored zombies) to respond to the needs of entitled, angry or simply confused customers who demand a high level of service.

Consider the following model to help all of your people to get through every customer interaction, whether it’s positive or negative.

It focuses on education and empathy and doing the work necessary to show customers your people really do care:

G Greet the customer with genuine sincerity and if it’s in person, real eye contact.

R Reassure the customer that you will take custody of his or her issue or problem until it’s solved.

E Explain what you will do or have done for the customer, giving as much detail as they may desire.

A Act accordingly and accurately, in terms of the duties you need to perform to truly solve the customer’s problem.

T Thank the customer for his or her cooperation, patience and business.

There is an old adage when it comes to improving customer service that sounds paradoxical and it is: a complaint is a gift.

Negative customer feedback gives your business and your employees the chance to repair your image, your reputation and improve the level of service you want to provide.

Recovering the customer’s business starts immediately when the problem becomes apparent, not two weeks later.

These five steps toward “great” service can both change the way your customers see your employees and help your people lower the emotional temperature of each customer encounter.


Written by Steve Albrecht, a San Diego trainer and human resources consultant. He may be reached at drsteve@drstevealbrecht.com.

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