Have you ever had a bad customer experience? Whether you were put on hold forever, dealt with an incompetent representative, or continued to experience poor service due to unresolved issues, these are all common blunders in the customer service industry. When the customer experience is less than your best, businesses lose big and it can be very costly. According to Lee Resources, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again. Let’s face it, mistakes happen all the time, it’s not what you say, but what you do to keep the customers happy.
As a mediator, I have successful mediated many standard to complex business and contract disputes. The common denominator in all of the cases has typically been a lack of communication, little understanding of the scope of the issue(s), and an inability to effectively render a resolution.
A typical business hears from only about 4% of its dissatisfied customers, according to Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner of 7 Star Service. Consumers are empowered more than ever to utilize the internet to find and review service providers. Unfortunately, getting a bad review without providing corrective action will leave a negative impression on current as well as potential clients.
5 Tips on How to Come Back from a Bad Customer Experience
1. Admit to your faults.
It takes more energy arguing, than to come up with an effective solution. As a business professional, your biggest obligation is to protect your reputation and your business. Show the customer that you acknowledge your faults and be willing to provide and/or negotiate a fair solution. When the company takes responsibility for the oversight, customers are more willing to work with you through the difficult times. Be the bigger person and start the conversation.
2. Give a fair explanation of the oversight, not an excuse.
When conflict arises, people respond better when they have a clear understanding on what went wrong. Consumers often get frustrated when excuses are given as a way to justify a poor customer experience. The key is to be transparent and to show that you are truly concerned.
3. Negotiate a fair offer.
Unfortunately, saying I’m sorry isn’t always good enough when resolving customer mishaps. What you might think is a fair offer, may not be well received by the other party. Negotiation is a great tactic that involves two or more parties. Typically, the outcome is more successful when people are engaged and involved in the decision making process. Remember, customer loyalty is your number goal.
4. Be open to feedback.
After a bad customer service experience, feelings and emotions are normally on high, and there is always something that you can take away from each situation. Asking for customer feedback shows that you are committed to the situation and have a desire to make improvements. This also a great opportunity to rebuild rapport and trust that might have been lost.
5. Follow up and keep the conversation going.
After a bad customer service experience, businesses should follow up and conduct a check-in with the consumer. This shows that you value the customer's business and want a relationship. Don’t use this opportunity to sell new products and services, but to focus on customer satisfaction and relationship management.
Recovering from a bad customer service experience is within reach if you take the right steps to resolve your customers issues. Ensure that your team is equipped to handle any customer situation - good or bad. One option is that you can incorporate a problem solving session during quarterly, annual, or as needed customer service training. Then, reinforce learnings with quizzes or other interactive learning tools. If you haven't already began training your customer facing teams through an online platform, download our free guide to learn how you can easily take your company's training online.
Keisha Stoute, is a well respected and experienced mediator in Chicago, IL. She is principal trainer and conflict management consultant at Stoute Communications. She has 14 years of business experience in a number of industries.