It can be hard to figure out what to say when customers ask difficult questions about refunds, exceptions to policy, or poor quality products. This lesson provides strategies for answering difficult questions honestly while retaining the customer.
- Life is full of difficult questions, and our customers ask a lot of them, and because we genuinely want to be helpful, responding with, "We can't help you," or "You're not going to get your money back" can be painful, but if you're going to write excellent emails, you have to write clear and direct answers, even when those answers are difficult to give. Customers' difficult questions fall into two broad categories. Will you give me what I want, and why did this bad situation happen? Will you give me questions include, will you give me a refund, will you send me a new product to replace the broken one, and will you make an exception to your no-returns policy.
Some why did this happen questions are, why didn't you send me the correct item, or why do you have the wrong information in my records. It's our job to answer customers' questions directly, even if the answers will upset them, but it's what we say after we answer the question honestly that matters the most. Try the no, but or the because, and answer method.
Think of the answers you'll give as having two parts. The first part is the difficult part, telling the customer no or explaining why. In the second part, you're going to try to make the no or the why more manageable by empathizing, by explaining, or by offering a work-around. No, but answers are a good way to respond to will you give me what I want questions.
For example, this customer's flight departed 90 minutes late. She writes about a frustrating situation and then asks, "Will you do the right thing and refund "the $455 I spent in airfare?" That's a difficult question because the answer is no. Carrier Airlines isn't going to refund the airfare. So this would be a good time to try the no, but method. Answer honestly, then pair your no with a but statement.
You could write, "We don't provide refunds "for delays of this type, but we do understand "how frustrating it was for you to wait to depart "without any idea of when the flight would take off." The because, and method is a good way to answer a customer's why did this bad situation happen question. Use because to give a honest answer, then continue with and to show empathy or solve the problem. For example, the customer ordered a ski jacket from H+ Sport and writes to say that we missed the delivery date.
She asks, "Why did this happen when I did "everything possible to get my order sent in on time?" This is a difficult question to answer because, frankly, H Sport messed up. So try the because, and method. Answer honestly, then pair your because with an and statement. You could write, "Your order was late "because the Winter Wonder jacket was out of stock. "We're very sorry this happened, "and we are going to refund your shipping charges." Remember, no matter how difficult the customer's question, the best approach is the straightforward answer paired with an empathy statement or an explanation.
Give your characters the salty and the sweet. Tell them the truth, which may not be what they want to hear, but pair it with kindness.
- Reading emails carefully
- Anticipating follow-up questions
- Answering all of the customer's questions
- Handling difficult questions
- Explaining your process to the customer
- Paraphrasing the customer's situation
- Acknowledging the customer's feelings
- Apologizing when appropriate
- Avoiding clichéd language
- Demonstrating empathy and sincerity in your writing
- Building rapport