How to Communicate with Upset Customers?
Have you ever had to deal with an upset customer and been at your wit’s end about -- How to handle the situation well so that you don’t lose your customer? Here's a four-step method that you can implement in your electrical contracting business and shine as an electrician as well as an electrical manager.
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1. Listen -- Apologise first, even if you are right.
In my business, Response Electricians, I have dealt with a wide range of customers. And the first thing that I have got to tell you is -- When you have an unhappy customer, be apologetic.
Listen: You have got to listen to your customer and give them an opportunity to talk.
While talking, have you ever waited for the other person to shut up? Instead, just listen to the other person, don't think about what you want to talk about. It is really important to the customers. You have got to put yourself in their shoes and ask the right questions.
The thing is that the customers don't just care about fixing it, they want to talk, too. They want to be heard and know that you care. So, let them express themselves.
2. Understand -- Tell me exactly what you have experienced so that we can fix this for you.
You have to have a process to make sure that the customer feels they have got a listening ear.
As discussed earlier, start with an apology -- You can ask them why they are feeling what they are feeling. You need to talk to the customer regarding how they are feeling about the situation and how you can help them out.
It is important to ask this so that you will know the exact cause of their problem -- it can be an error on the invoice, they might think that the electrical work is not good, and so on. If there any mistakes, you can amend them.
It can be tricky because you have not seen the electrical job yourself. Sometimes you have to talk them through why things have been done the way they were done and explain the process. Give them a second opinion. You can also offer alternatives when needed.
3. Empathise -- Thank you so much for telling me all the stuff. I can relate.
You have to understand that people's situations led them to feel this way. Empathise with your customer and thank them for telling you the whole deal. It shows that they trust you and expect you to make things right.
Objectivity is a really good skill to have in such situations. Look at all the customer service situations objectively. You should not let emotions drive the situation because chances are that ninety-five percent of the time your customers are not angry at you but at the circumstances.
The more you allow yourself to be sucked into other people's emotions (negativity, pressure, lack of time), the more worn out you will be. Emotions take energy and they can sap you of your will and positivity. So instead, you can just acknowledge the emotion but do not buy into the emotion. This way of thinking and functioning will help you to keep the process clinical and keep you fresh, too.
Meanwhile, you can suggest a plan or a solution to achieve the desired result. Many times, it can happen that you explain a situation well and the customer accepts it.
4. Fix it -- Let me come up with a solution. Give me some time, please.
Now you have to call your electrician and find out their side of the story.
Remember never to say that you are wrong till you have understood the issue at hand from both sides. Before making a decision, you need to hear perspectives from both sides and gather as much information as possible. Thus you will be able to make a well-informed and correct decision.
Sometimes, you might be under pressure. So, you have to let the customer know that you will call them back. Do not rush through the conversations. During this situation, remember not to come across as curt. Or it can blow up the situation.
No matter how difficult a situation is, always keep your cool. It is easy to take information from the customer, but then you have to calm down again before you talk to the technician. It is important to stay calm while addressing the customer's complaints so that you can talk to the electrician and get a full picture of the situation to come up with a solution.
And if you are a manager, you have to side with that customer. You can also offer credit to the customer to appease them. See, acknowledge, and address their point of view and point of paint. You have to take the matter into your hands and fix the issues. Assure your customer that it won’t happen again so they know that they can trust you.
Once a customer was a bit disappointed and called up our Operations Manager, Kirk Neal. In a managerial position, you have to rely on indirect sources of information such as the technician's notes and customer's view. You also have to tread a careful line such that you can balance and hear out both sides. Here, the best method is to be soft and apologetic and empathetic.
Thus, depending on how grave your customer service situation is and how upset the customer is, you can change the above-shared method for the right solution. I hope you are able to retain upset customers and turn them into lifelong champions of your business!
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