The telephone rings, almost angrily. You clear your throat quickly, readying yourself for an onslaught of complaints, grievances and all around unhappiness. Picking the phone up by the second ring, you answer politely with a smile, hoping it will set the tone to whoever’s on the other end to take a more gentle approach. The complaints come fast and furious, but you stay calm and collected – after all, complaints are part and parcel of your customer service job and you’re imbued with the survival skills of customer service. When it is finally your turn to speak, the client is noticeably more pliable and sympathetic, and ends off the call with a firm, but more appeased tone. Your colleagues rally around you and ask, “Just how do you do it?”
There are certain phrases and words that angry customers are waiting to hear when they’re dissatisfied enough to make that complaint call. Paired up with the golden rules for excellent customer service, they can be truly effective in alleviating unpleasant situations.
Here are some magic phrases that customer service staff should have in their arsenal:
“How can I help?”
Dissatisfied customers generally want the opportunity to explain why they’re angry and what they need. Rather than just guessing why they’re so unhappy, customer service staff can carefully listen first and invite discussion. By starting off the call on a positive note, it sets the tone for the rest of the call.
“I can solve that problem for you.”
This phrase helps especially for business-to-business customers as they usually are looking to buy solutions to problems – pronto. Being straightforward and answering in a way that they can understand are more appreciated for these customers.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
Rather than hurting your credibility (as well as the company’s) by attempting to answer a difficult question, it’s better to admit that you’re unsure of all the facts. More informed customers may test you with challenging questions that they know you can’t answer just to see you struggle with a reply. Showing integrity can enhance your honesty.
“I’ll keep you updated”
Businesses that deal with long lead times will probably need plenty of scheduling and coordinating sequences of events. Here’s where giving assurance to customers will become important as the companies that keep them abreast of situations, whether good or bad, will be trusted the most.
“It’ll be just what you ordered”
The order will not be “similar to” or “better than”, it will be exactly what was requested. Even if the company thinks a substitute will fare better to the client’s interest, it is better to not intervene and deliver the specific order. Customers may prefer to not disclose their reasons for the purchase.
“I appreciate your business”
More than just issuing a simple “thank you,” showing appreciation through follow-up calls, offering to help with any questions in the future and making sure that everything is working fine even after the initial problem is resolve will stand you in good stead with your customers.
While these phrases will leave a good impression on your customer during a complaint call, it is still important to continue conveying your sincere desire to help. Having the ability to turn complaints into satisfied customers can generate more good publicity for the company, and that leads to recommendations and repeat sales.
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