Handling Angry Customers in the Field Service IndustryBy My Service Depot on Wednesday, August 5, 2020
As a business owner or customer service representative, you need a strategy to fall back on when dealing with upset customers.
Regardless of your field service trade, you and all of your customer service representatives likely dread the phrase, “I want to speak to a manager.” No matter the quality of service we provide, issues will arise and eventually you’ll have to deal with an angry or upset customer. With a proper understanding of the ways you can help your customers once they become upset, you have a chance to regain their trust and their business.
Don’t be afraid.
Handling an upset customer can be intimidating, especially the first few times you have to do it. However, you cannot let fear force you into rushed decisions, as this will never result in the best outcome for you or the customer. Instead of jumping the gun and rushing to agree with them, try using the phrase “I am sorry that this has happened and I know how important this is to you. I will be working to resolve this issue and I appreciate your patience as we work toward a resolution.” With that line, you buy some time to step back, look at the situation, and deliver the best result possible.
Occasionally you will have customers that just want to provide feedback about their experience with your business. Sadly, not all customers know how to get their point across without becoming upset or frustrated. When you first interact with the customer, let them speak. You do not have to interject at every statement and say, “I understand.” Instead, try waiting until they finish talking and recap what the customer just said, concluding with, “is that correct?” This will show the customer that not only did you listen, but you also comprehended their request or issue. A manager or supervisor that can comprehend their customers’ needs is one that is more equipped to get the best outcome for all parties.
Break down the problem.
Not all issues can be solved in a single stroke. Often, you will have to break a customer’s problem down into smaller issues. This is almost always the best course of action, as it leads to more manageable solutions and better results. Address all of the customer’s concerns individually instead of gunning for a swift action that may only address 90% of them.
Not all displeased customers will act the same and you will inevitably have to change how you handle them right out of the gate. You almost never know what a person is going through in their personal life and that may lead them to have an outburst that you may deem uncalled for. Just remember, life is full of emotion, some good and some bad. The important part is that you remain calm and focus on making sure the customer wants to continue using your services.
Professional vs. Personal
You have to remember that you represent a company and that upset customers are not really attacking you personally, even when they hurl insults your way. By mentally removing the ‘personal’ angle, you start off on the right foot and in the right state of mind to handle the customer’s issues efficiently. Disagreements and conflicts will happen, and you must react appropriately when they do. Every company has a brand reputation, including your service business. If you lose your cool, you risk doing long term damage to your business.
What is next?
As you start to work toward the end of the conversation with the customer, you need to lay out a clear plan for resolution. That may be something as simple as “let me review and I will follow up tomorrow” or something a bit more complex, like “I will need to review this with my team and other departments. You can expect to hear from me later this week.” This sets clear expectations for the customer and gives both parties something to go off of.
Always make sure the customer knows that you appreciate them. When you deal with an escalated customer, let them know that you appreciate their feedback. You can easily end the call/conversation with “thank you for your time today and discussing your concerns with me. I will look into how we can prevent this from happening again.”
When you speak with an escalated customer, they will often pick up the tone in your voice. By remaining empathetic you allow the customer to feel like help is being given and that they are dealing with a real person. Take a second to put yourself in their shoes. Remember the times in your life when you’ve been an upset customer.
At the end of the day, without customers we do not have jobs. Therefore, we want to make sure that we always provide the best customer experience possible, even when things get intense.