Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Connecting problem resolution to outstanding service, part of Customer Service Foundations.
Problems can and will happen. Despite our best intentions to help customers avoid these inconveniences, it's a fact of life. However, problems can also represent an opportunity. We can win over a customer and make them happy, if we can solve the problem quickly. The opposite is also true. Failure to solve a problem will make the situation much, much worse. For example, a cable repair technician might arrive late to a customer's home. The customer is understandably irritated, but what happens next will determine the customer's lasting impression.
If the cable technician is unapologetic and rude, the customer will be even angrier. However, if the technician is apologetic, builds rapport with the customer, and then quickly fixes the problem, the customer might feel much better by the end of the visit. Problems impact both of our customers' basic needs. The rational needs are affected because a problem can cost customers extra time, money, and effort. Their emotional needs are impacted, because a problem can cause a whole host of negative emotions. Such as frustration, irritation, or even rage.
To effectively solve problems, we often have to address both the rational and emotional needs. For example, a customer once ordered a set of customized holiday greeting cards from a printing company. When the cards didn't arrive on time, she contacted customer service to track her order. The customer service rep took care of her rational needs by finding her order and getting it shipped out right away, however the rep ignored her emotional needs by being unempathetic about the delay. As I mentioned earlier, solving problems also represents an opportunity to make customers even more loyal.
The next year, the customer ordered her cards from a different printing company. She must have had bad luck, because this time the cards arrived with the wrong date on them. The customer's frustrated when she called customer service. But it was even more frustrating to learn that the wrong date was printed as a result of an error she had made. Here's where the customer service rep turned things around by addressing the customer's emotional needs. First, he assured her that this was a normal error, and even apologized that their system wasn't easier to use.
This made the customer feel a lot less embarrassed. Then, the customer service rep offered to reprint her order at no charge. And ship them via express delivery so she'd receive the new cards later that week. This made the customer feel grateful and relieved, since the company was fixing her error. The customer ended up posting a note on her Facebook account to recommend the company to all of her friends. That holiday card story reminds us that customers don't look at your service in isolation. They compare it to the service they receive from other companies too. If you've ever had a credit card or a debit card expire, you may have experienced how companies handle the same problem differently.
If you're set up with automatic bill pay, a new credit or debit card means you need to contact those companies to give them the new expiration date. The best companies anticipate your needs. They contact customers proactively to let them know their credit card is about to expire and provide instructions on how to update their account. This makes updating the card pretty easy. The good companies make it easy for customers to update their credit card number on their website. Some companies require customers to call customer service. This can be a little annoying to customers, but it's not too bad if the customer service rep is fast and friendly.
And then, there are some companies that just can't get it right. There's no option to update the card online. The customer service hotline is always busy or the new card number doesn't get added to the account, even after talking to customer service. It's bad enough to experience this type of problem. But when compared to those other companies who made it much easier, becomes unacceptable. Customers are much more likely to take their business to a competitor when this happens. Problem solving is an essential aspect of outstanding customer service.
Over the next few videos, I'll share with you some obstacles that can sometimes make problem resolution difficult. I'll also show you some proven techniques that can be used to overcome these obstacles and help your customers succeed.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.