Customer service is not just about providing outstanding experiences to clients and making sure their satisfaction levels are high. Many agents face challenging and often very difficult situations when dealing with customers. In such cases, the most important thing is proper communication and focus on resolving the conflict. These two elements are necessary to solve issues and to build even stronger relationships with customers.
There are different reasons why your agents may conflict with customers: poor service, lack of clear information, failure to establish the terms and conditions of the product or service at the beginning of the purchase process, delays to response or delivery, or false accusations and claims.
Any of these situations may cause uncertainty or frustration for the customer. If not addressed in the right way, these conflicts may escalate to much bigger problems in the future.
The motto “Customer is always right”, popularized by Marshall Field, John Wanamaker, and Harry Gordon Selfridge (source), is only somewhat true. We don’t live in the 19th century (as Field, Wanamaker, and Selfridge did). Your customer service agents don’t have to agree with every customer and apologize to customers who are not right. However, they should always react to customers’ complaints. In this guide, we discuss the topic of apologies – how to express regret to a customer and how to deal with conflicts of different origins.
So, how can you solve a tense situation and apologize to the customer? Let’s have a look at some examples.
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Each case of tension between a customer and your company should be analyzed and treated as a separate case. Agents should treat customers’ well-being as a priority, but it doesn’t mean that they must agree with everything thrown at them. You should empower your employees to politely disagree with customers instead of expecting them to say “yes” to everything they say or do. So, if there’s a case when a customer reports an issue, escalates it (and is perhaps rude at the same time), and it turns out that the specific situation is the customer’s fault, then this should be addressed by your agent. The agent, possibly backed by a manager, should contact the customer, clarify the situation, clear the air and, if possible, explain to the customer how the company will address such incidents in the future.
No, it’s unacceptable for a customer service agent to hang up on a rude customer and they must never do so. An agent should try to talk to a customer even if they are insulting and try to get to the bottom of the issue. The agent should aim to clarify the situation with the customer and calm them down. If they can’t reach any conclusion or agreement, the best thing to do is to interrupt the customer, inform them that the conversation will be continued during another call, and propose a date for that to take place.
Additionally, to prevent customer service agents from hanging up on customers, make sure all your agents know that calls with customers are recorded. Not to make them feel scared or controlled, but because they should know that their managers can always go back to the recordings, check how the conversation went, and support their team members in dealing with demanding clients.
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