Recovering Trust when Things Go Wrong

Imagine buying track lighting on-line and when you install it, discover that one head doesn't work. Since it's over two months since your purchase, Amazon directs you to the manufacturer, Juno Lighting. You phone expecting a hassle. You're quickly directed to a live person who offers to send an immediate replacement head as well as a shipping sticker to make it easy for you to return the old one. No runaround. No delay. That's what happened to my buddy, Gerald. Apparently, the folks at Juno Lighting realize the internet that generates revenues for them is also the same network customers use to either rant or rave about them. Now you, and thousands of others who receive my tips, just heard about Juno's great service. The lesson is when things go wrong, fix it faster and with less hassle than people expect. Customers will not only forgive you; they'll reward you.

Avoiding Round One

In my Avoiding Round One seminars for staff who deal with stressed customers, I suggest employees avoid the habit of asking customers, "How are you?" If you know the customer is likely coming to you with a problem, asking that question sounds like you must be oblivious and forces customers to respond by lying: "Fine." Or it invites them to launch into a rant. Not a good start. Imagine instead you are a customer visiting a registry office (a place where you may need to go but don't really want to go). Employee: Good morning!   Customer: Hi, how are you?   Employee: Fine thanks. What can I do to make your day just a little bit easier?   Chances are, as a customer you'll feel pleasantly surprised.   Apparently, you're dealing with someone who solves problems.   Quite a difference when managers simply schedule half-day seminars for their teams.

Connencting with Frustrated Customers

One of the most common challenges I'm asked to address for teams is how to regain trust with frustrated customers.   While there are several strategies, this one involves sharing customer stories.   Imagine teaching a customer how to use some new technology.   When they struggle, you reassure them with examples of how other customers found it awkward at first as well.   Think of it this way - your customer is taking a risk using your services.   It's comforting when they discover they aren't alone.   Consider when Apple computers first arrived.   Customer forums sprang up of Mac Users.   These customers felt isolated, yet by connecting to others with similar challenges they became fiercely loyal to the brand.   When you as a Trusted Advisor share other customers' similar experiences, you're not only reducing their stress; you're also helping your customers to connect vicariously with each other.

When to Take Credit for Someone Else

As a customer, you've likely encountered frontline employees who are powerless.   Let's say you have a non-typical request.     The employee states, 'I'll have to go ask my manager.' They later return with, 'My manager said that yes we can do that for you.' How demeaning. That response makes everyone look bad; the employee appears to be untrained, and the supervisor comes across as a micromanager. Ironically, when I interview managers in advance of my seminars for their teams, they tell me they want the opposite to happen. Smart managers want employees to take credit for the decision.   Employees have greater impact explaining to customers, 'I'll look into this and see what I can do for you.' Then after consulting your manager, say, 'Here's what I've come up with for you...'  You and the manager look better, and customers feel like they're dealing with the right person.

Customer Cellphone Etiquette

You've probably noticed that today's customer is easily distracted. It doesn't seem to matter if they're at work or on personal time... their mobile devices just keep pinging, vibrating, and signaling that someone else needs their attention.   Trying to have a buying conversation with 'wired' customers reminds me of the Disney movie, 'Up!' where, in midst of conversation, dogs would suddenly look sideways and shout, 'Squirrel!'  As I demonstrate in my live presentations, helping customers make complex buying decisions requires their time and attention.   To help gain both, consider starting the conversation by taking-out your phone and stating, 'Let me turn this darned thing off, so we won't be interrupted.   By the way, how's your time - are we OK?   That not only conveys that you consider them to be important; it also encourages customers to ignore their phone, and commit some time to this decision.

Top 10 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers

You may have great products but you can still have customer service problems caused by bad weather, equipment failures, or human error.  While you can't control external events, you can control what you say to upset customers. Certain phrases will serve to either diffuse or enflame.   After over 20 years of speaking at conferences and training teams on customer service, here are my top ten worst things to say to unhappy customers along with tips for regaining trust...

To read the complete article click:   Top 10 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers

Are you Bothering Customers?

Here's an interesting tidbit that may change the way you interact with customers.   I interviewed a respected manager about things she's learned over years of running her business.   (When I speak for various groups I typically interview a few of the group leaders in advance to get their input).   She told me she wished she had realized sooner that following-up with potential customers a few days after they first contact you is not bothering them.   You're doing them a favour.   Unfortunately, we often avoid following-up for fear of being considered a pest.   The truth is customers may have every intention of contacting you anyway, but they have a full inbox and are distracted.   Next time you're wondering if you should contact the customer, go ahead and phone.   You're not being bothersome; you're being helpful.

Why did you leave us?

You already know how much more profitable it is to keep existing customers than trying to find new ones.   Here then is an easy tip to help increase customer retention and profits.   Simply call customers who no longer do business with you and ask them why they left.   Your goal is not to convince them to come back. Instead, you're trying to find out how your company may have missed the mark so you can prevent other customers from leaving for the same reasons.   Keep in mind that some customers won't want to hurt your feelings, so consider having a third person make the call.   You'll be surprised at how often they didn't leave over price; but because of some other miss-step.   Bottom line - you'll get a better ROI moving some of your marketing resources away from chasing new customers and towards finding out why some customers defected in the first place

3 Keys to Recovering from Customer Service Foul-ups

No matter how conscientious you are, sooner or later customer service foul-ups will happen. These may be weather delays, supplier quality issues, or simple human error. When things go sideways, here are 3 keys to reducing stress and keeping customers:

  1. Own-it - don't blame other departments, suppliers, or your co-workers.   You represent your company so take responsibility with words like, 'This was our mistake.' Customers know that you personally may not be to blame, but they respect the fact that you're taking responsibility.
  2. Empathize - use empathic statements like, 'This sounds frustrating.'
  3. Apologize - say, 'I'm sorry.' Even if the problem was due to weather delays, customers appreciate that someone - anyone - has expressed that they're sorry it happened.

As I explain in my seminars, if the problem was indeed your fault, then also give customers something for the inconvenience. That way, they'll become even more loyal than before the problem occurred.

Word your message positively

When giving information or instructions to customers or coworkers, take a lesson from Lifeguards - focus on the positive. If, while at a swimming pool, a youngster starts running on the deck, the savvy Lifeguard won't say, 'Stop running!' Instead, she'll say, 'Walk please!' When dealing with customers rather than saying, 'We won't be able to deliver until the weekend,'instead say, 'we can have it for you as early as this weekend.' Same information but it's likely to be better received when offered as a positive.


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