The mantra for many corporations is “the customer is always right.” However, there are some scenarios in which customer requests cannot reasonably be met. For example, many businesses cannot afford to give more expensive products away without receiving payment. Similarly, many businesses cannot afford to set a precedent that all special requests can be accommodated with no extra fee or advanced notice. Businesses have to have systems in place to remain profitable. However, there is a way to work with customers that might not be able to have their demands met in a call center environment. The right customer service training can give call center staff the tools they need to keep customers happy, even when the initial customer requests might not be feasible.
Necessary skills all call center representatives need to learn
Often, call center training is oversimplified. Employees learn how to use necessary equipment, write tickets, and process requests with proper telephone etiquette. Customer service can be confused with professionalism. It is up to call center personnel to make sure that customers can find quality solutions to pressing problems that the company is able to accommodate. Some common solutions include the following:
- Offer monetary compensation for a poor experience, such as a free gift card or discount along with a sincere apology and acceptance of responsibility for the mishap on behalf of the company.
- Utilize active listening to find out if the customer has any underlying concerns that can be addressed in a logical manner (e.g. provide available tracking numbers for shipped items that after a dissatisfied customer reveals he or she had a past issue receiving a shipment).
- Call center personnel and management should have procedures regarding what to do in the event a third party could best assist the customer (e.g. a customer that cannot keep up on necessary payments may benefit from a referral to a financial counseling center).
Let the customer take ownership of the solution
A large part of the problem solving process involves leading an unhappy customer to a reasonable solution instead of telling the customer what to do outright. In general, people do not want to feel like a call service representative is being bossy. One way to let a customer create his or her own viable solution is to first apologize that his or her initial request cannot be met and then give multiple options that might work.
Present possible solutions in the form of a question
Presenting thoughts in the form of a question is another way to provide better customer service. Instead of making a statement such as, “You need to…” phrase common solutions as questions such as, “What are your thoughts about…?” Phrasing possible solutions as questions can help customers feel more involved and important. In addition, phrasing ideas as questions make customer service representatives appear less demanding or intimidating.
Is the customer always right?
Instead of saying that “the customer is always right,” train staff that “the customer is not always right the FIRST time.” Reasonable solutions can almost always be reached to address customer concerns. Providing quality customer service training for call center personnel almost always requires more resources than professionalism and good telephone etiquette. However, the rewards can be worth the extra investment in customer service training.
Article courtesy of Charlie McCartney of The Marketing Robot. Follow him on Twitter@robthemarketer or read his blog for more information on marketing and small business best practices.