In the last post I wrote about staff not taking initiative when a customer has a problem, of following a policy or procedure. ‘Company rules are…’, this is our policy on complaints’, ‘please read this and write into our head office’. The latter often heard at airports when the passenger with the problem wants and possibly needs a result – now.
An unhappy customer becomes impatient and is frustrated, they can get louder than usual (and don’t always realise this). They no longer care about rules and procedures, ‘gimme a result – now!’. Telling them what to do is a red rag to a bull. The worst case scenario is that they will rehash old wrongs.
And what do companies and those who train people in customer service do? They teach employees to be calm, to say phrases such as: ‘if you shout at me I will terminate this call,’ ‘don’t raise your voice at me.’ Such actions merely light the fire under the potentially explosive situation. Even if the customer appears to physically walk away, they will remember. They will remember every single thing you and your organisation ever did wrong and the experience will imprint on their memory and they will tell other people.
Two solutions – as a customer it really helps to say ‘I’m sorry to bother you, but could you help me please.’ This is so disarming to most people they will help you. Even the most intractable and jobsworth people will listen and often point you in the direction of a colleague who is known to be helpful. Taking on some of the blame yourself really helps. It might not be what you really want to do, but it can help.
When you’re providing the customer service, being aware of how the customer is reacting using appropriate LAB Profile® Influencing Language is really appropriate, useful, customer friendly and will get you repeat business (at times there are customers however who make their own completely internal decisions and cannot be retained – they are a minority).
The customer knows he or she is right, it helps therefore if you are in customer service to get the aggrieved customer to listen to and understand you, start where they are – ‘I know this must be really awful for you ………..,’ ‘you may want to consider’, ‘this may be in your best interest,’ ‘may I make a suggestion?’
They want you to break the rules for them, your policies and procedures are not of the slightest interest to them. They want you to do something now. And you might well be surprised to find that at times when you’ve agreed that the situation is terrible, and used some of the LAB Profile Internal Influencing Language you may want to consider, this may be in your best interests, may I make a suggestion?. You might be surprised if you say to this upset customers, whilst I can’t get you on a flight right now, I can get you a meal to begin with (and let them know you’re not supposed to do, it’s breaking the rules just for them but you’d like to help) and I can arrange for you to use a phone privately and I can locate your luggage and I can help you to find some accommodation. Then it’s highly possible that the upset customer will calm down and will listen to you and later will let everyone know how well their problem was treated.
Don’t just believe me, try it out for yourself or ask me for some info or clues on how to find out more about this. There are tools and a tried and tested methodology.
Rosie O’Hara is one of the UK’s foremost Trainers and Consultants of the Language and Behaviour (LAB) Profile®, Words that Change Minds. Her background is in mechanical engineering and the German language – more information on uses of the LAB Profile® for Team Building, HSE, Management, Negotiation, Market Research, Recruitment and in Executive Coaching and more contact Rosie on 07796 134081, 01224 900748, or 01309 676004 or take a look at the website click here