I had one of the worst customer service experiences in my life recently. As often happens when customer service goes wrong, a bad experience on one hand turned into a learning experience on the other.
An Real Life Example
I won't go into all of the gory details (there are many) of when customer service went wrong. Let me just give you a few of the lowlights (there were no highlights).
Basically my problem was that when I went to the web interface that the company provided me, the information that was supposed to show was not always appearing. It was inconsistent. One minute it was there, the next it was not. There is no doubt that my problem is a technical issue, and it definitely is on their end.
Bad Customer Service Wastes Time AND Money
The most recent call was about the eighth contact with this company's service department, with each call being escalated to a higher level of support. Not only is this incredible expensive and labour intensive for the company, it was very frustrating for me as each person I spoke to was just looking for a new way to tell me that the problem was with my computer. Each person was over complicating things, none would believe what I was saying, and all believed me to be incompetent.
If You Don’t Listen, It’s Poor Customer Service
On my last call, I was first asked if I was close to my computer and if it was turned on. (I am not kidding). After then being asked to once again give remote access to my computer, I refused. On more than one occasion, I stated 'No there is no need for you to access my computer, you are not understanding my problem. Please go to the site and tell me what you see!' At one point, I literally had to scream into the phone and say, 'Stop interrupting me, and listen to me!'
Finally! Someone actually went to the site and had a look. Finally! They understood what I had been saying over and over again. Finally! They agreed it was a technical issue on their end.
Lessons Learned From When Customer Service Goes Wrong
So what lessons did I learn? Firstly, don't just hear what the customer is saying, actually listen to what they are saying. Above all else, don't use the time that your customer is talking just to think of a new way to say the exact same thing you just said.
Secondly, when dealing with a customer service issue, peel back the layers of the onion and solve the actual problem, not just the symptoms to the problem. Sometimes the fix may be easy, but finding the actual cause may be the hard part. Stick with it though because by doing so, you will save everyone time, money and frustration.
7 Steps to A Better Customer Experience
When I look at these lessons, it is clear there is a process involved to solving bad customer service. Vocalcom decribes this process in 7 steps with the first two being:
- Listen to the customer and show genuine empathy
- Assess the situation
Clearly, if any one of the customer service representatives had started with these 2 steps, we all would have save a lot of time, money, and frustration.
So how were things left with my issue? I am to contact them if the problem reoccurs. Right…I will get right on that.
Customer Service and Sales Opportunities
The same is true in a sales situation. Make sure your solution solves the prospect's real problems, not just what he thinks are his problems.
Ask questions to clarify and dig down to the root causes.
Remember, better the fact find, happier the customer, better the paycheque!
Sample Fact Find Questions to Win More Sales Faster
The Bottom Line
Often bad customer services issues are not the customer service rep’s fault. Often, the root cause are bad management practices. Regardless of who is to blame, we all have to realize customer service issues are inevitable and it’s everyone’s responsibilty to know how to handle them.
Remember, the fact is a customer complaint is just an opportunity for improvement in disguise. Fix the problem quickly and efficiently and the customer will be more loyal than if the problem never happened in the first place. After all, as Bob Hooey once said, “If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”
“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”
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