How to Handle 7 Customer Service Challenges
Customer service can make or break your company. Sometimes, though, customers ask challenging questions, demand instant resolution, or complain. The right response from your staff soothes elevated emotions and spreads goodwill, but the wrong response can turn customers away. Prepare your employees to handle challenging customers properly in seven scenarios, and support your business’ success.
1. The Customer Requests a Favor
When a customer asks your employees to bend the rules or do something out of the norm, your employees may respond with an automatic “No.” They may not wish to start a trend, have a desire for frugality, or not feel they have the power to grant small requests. Also, saying, “Yes,” to a favor may require employees to break an important company policy that could affect other customers or your company. However, many favor requests are reasonable, and saying, “Yes,” or at least responding the right way with a “No” goes a long way toward improving your brand reputation.
Empower your customers to say, “Yes,” as often as possible. In situations where a “No” is necessary, tell employees to provide an alternative solution. For example, if the customer wants a service you don’t provide, your staff can say, “We would be happy to refer you to another company that offers this service.” Your customer’s needs are met, and your employees uphold company policies without damaging your reputation. Everyone wins.
2. The Item Isn’t Available
High customer demand, production delays, or other problems can affect item availability. Right now, your staff may respond to customers with negative language, such as “That product’s on backorder and can’t be delivered until next month.” This negative response tells customers you’re not interested in meeting their needs and invites clients to shop elsewhere.
Positive language tells customers you’re focused on a solution and will meet their needs. Here’s an example: “This product will be in stock next month or we’ll have the presentation software available in two days. Let me place the order for you right now and place a note on your account to send it as soon as it reaches our warehouse.” When your staff responds with a positive, “We can” message, you build trust and show customers your company will do whatever it can to meet their needs now and in the future.
3. A Product or Service Doesn’t Meet Expectations
Customers expect the products they purchase from you will work or the services they purchase will provide the benefits you promise. A mistake on your end affects your brand, but the way your employees respond can improve customer relations.
Your staff should respond immediately to complaints with empathy. Then, they should offer a solution. Consider this example: “I’m sorry the product/service did not exceed your expectations. We understand how disappointed you must feel. May I ship you a new product today or send you a complete refund?” Your customers will appreciate your desire to make things right and the immediate solution.
4. You Don’t Know the Answer
Customers sometimes ask questions your staff can’t answer. Whether the employee is new or the question is unusual, remind your employees to choose a better response than “I don’t know anything about the presentation maker” or “I’m new here.” Quite frankly, the customer doesn’t care why the employee doesn’t know the answer; they just want a solution.
The more sympathetic answer includes restating the question followed by, “Let me find out for you right now” or “I’ll find out the answer and call you back today.” These responses show empathy, put the customer first, and demonstrate your company’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
5. You Must Transfer a Customer
Realistically, your staff occasionally may face situations when they can’t handle a customer need and instead must find someone else on the customer service ladder who can help. Most customers prefer not to hear, “Please hold while I transfer your call to someone else.” This stock answer is impersonal and doesn’t explain why the customer is on hold. Even worse, it can convey that you give customers the runaround and make them go through hoops before you help.
Because your employees occasionally must transfer customer calls or add a supervisor to the conversation, choose a message that genuinely conveys your desire to help. Try, "Hello (first name). We want to resolve your video CMS problem as soon as possible. May I transfer you to our returns/inventory/account specialist? She’s equipped to expedite your request and give you the best resolution.” Most customers appreciate speaking to an expert, and this positive message reassures them your company cares.
6. The Customer Is Irate
Emotional or angry customers want instant results and may take out their frustration on innocent employees. Their anger may or may not be justified. While your company won’t make every customer happy, try to satisfy customers when possible.
Train your customers to follow three steps. They work when dealing with irate customers in person, on a live chat through your company’s apps or on the phone.
- Apologize: “I’m sorry about that” conveys your staff’s personal apology to the customer. It lays the foundation for a calm resolution.
- Sympathize: “I understand how upsetting that must be” reminds customers that you empathize with their circumstance. It puts your employees in the customers’ shoes and demonstrates that your employees will work on their behalf to find a resolution.
- Accept responsibility: “I’ll make sure we find a solution for you” gives customers someone who will advocate for them. It builds confidence and trust that the issue will be fixed.
Despite your team’s best efforts, customers may still leave unhappy. However, make sure your staff does as much as possible to achieve a positive end result.
7. It’s Time to Say Goodbye
Your staff may not know how to end a customer service call or an in-person discussion, especially if the interaction was negative. This final sentence takes only a few seconds but can make a big impression. It gives customers a parting look at your brand’s values, which includes a commitment to customer happiness and a determination to get it right.
An excellent closing statement could be, “I’m glad we could serve you today. Before you go, is there anything else I may assist you with? I’m happy to help.” Your customers may or may not have another issue to discuss, but your employees now have the tools they need to resolve the challenge.
Customer service forms the backbone of your company. Train your staff to handle seven challenges with these tips, and you help your business succeed.