Fixing a customer service fiasco
One local shipping company found itself overwhelmed with business this past holiday season. Its customers were forming lines that wrapped around the establishment as early as 6 a.m. to collect packages, which, in many instances, were nowhere to be found. Gifts that were ordered for Christmas Day could not be collected until after the holiday. Tempers flared. No explanation was given, and social media was rampant with unflattering stories as to why people could not get their hands on their holiday cheer.
Bad customer service reaches twice as many ears as good service, and a blunder will wreak havoc on your bottom line.
Here are seven tips that may help any business finding itself in a similar situation:
Anticipate the glitches
If you anticipate a glitch that may even slightly cause inconvenience to your customer, get out in front of it. Do not continue with business as usual and hope that the customers won’t notice. You may be thinking you don’t want to bring attention to something negative, but in this case that line of thinking will hurt you. Be quick to acknowledge the slip in service. Why? Because you want it to be known that what your customers are experiencing is below your standard. If you are unable to deliver with excellence, work to manage the customer’s expectation.
Take it seriously
Do not assume everything is OK. If you clearly messed up, find a way to reach out to your customers and acknowledge it. Just because you only had several customers outwardly express their annoyance and the other 500 said nothing, does not mean they were unbothered. Statistics show 96 percent of your customers will never voice their complaints and 91 percent of those who are unhappy with your service will never return.
Communicate through the process
Appreciate the power of social media. If you mess up, prepare to be put on blast. Public Relations 101: To control the conversation, you start it, so you can direct it. In this case, angry customers took to social media to find out what was going on and all sorts of stories emerged. True or untrue, don’t miss the opportunity to implement damage control, then take the opportunity to let people know what you are doing to resolve the issue.
Talk directly to your customers
If you have email addresses or any other form of contact, use it. Try to contact your customers before they contact you; give an explanation, but don’t make any excuses. Quickly communicate your strategy for how you are going to work through the challenge.
Saying sorry doesn’t make you look weak. It conveys you are concerned about the fact that someone is having a bad experience and it is connected to your company. Don’t just give the rote, “We apologize for any inconvenience caused.” Give your staff something more empathetic to say, like “We know this has been inconvenient for you and we apologize.”
Find a way to ‘make good’
Provide your inconvenienced customer something that will express your apology; give them an incentive to allow you to prove yourself once again. Many customers would rather pay more to ensure a certain level of service.
Galvanize your team
Be sure you meet, outline the strategy to correct the challenge, coach them to communicate with empathy and ensure the customer’s experience with the staff is outstanding.
• Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice. A communication trainer and coach, she assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 242-225-9013.