As much as we’d like to think otherwise, there will come a time when every business owner needs to turn around a bad customer experience. It can be easy to lose heart when a customer tells you they aren’t happy, but only 4% of customers actually speak up when they’re unhappy. This means that it’s important to make the most of the opportunity when they actually do.
Turning around a poor customer experience is a learnable skill. It’s daunting at first, but it’s learnable. Today, we’re sharing our top tips to turn around a negative customer experience; scroll on to get inspired.
It can be tempting to only reply to your positive reviews on Google and Facebook. It’s vital, though, to not ignore this side of your online presence. Reviews are an important part of how customers see you. They are as integral to your brand as your logo or website, so prepare to get used to checking them regularly.
Before doing anything else, make sure it’s a legitimate review. Sometimes you’ll receive spam, fake reviews, but Google and its peers tend to be aware of this. Google in particular will hide reviews it judges untrustworthy, especially those from accounts that have never shared anything else or are mostly inactive. You’ll also need to check the customer wasn’t referring to a business with a similar name or another location in your franchise. This will save a lot of head- and heartache before you try and resolve an issue that isn’t meant for you after all.
Scroll on for our tips on how to respond to a customer below.
We are passionate about fast email reply times and even have a full guide to reducing them here on the blog. When a customer is already upset, it’s especially important to get back to them quickly to avoid more frustration.
One option is to have an autoresponder set up from your support email address, which should:
- Thank them for their email and confirm that you’ve received it successfully.
- Let them know a rough time frame in which they can expect a reply from you. It should be prompt but realistic for your team.
- Share links to any support pages that might be relevant to them in the meantime, including links that answer your most common queries.
Just as we’re wired to be less considerate when we feel we’re anonymous, we’re wired to be less considerate when we don’t think we’re talking to a real human too. This happens because when typing into a faceless text box, the phenomenon of dehumanization kicks in.
We can make a conscious effort towards kindness by how we structure our replies. Some great practices to consider are:
- Open any conversation with their name. It immediately shows that you’re trying to tune in.
- Introduce yourself in your response. You could create a TextExpander Snippet to simply say, “Hi ______, I’m ______ on the customer service team at ______, and I’ll be helping you with _______ today.”
- Consider adding a photo to your footer or avatar, or another human touch that gives personality to your response.
Active Listening Can Transform A Customer Experience
Have you ever had a conversation where you walked away feeling like you weren’t heard? Maybe you felt dismissed or unimportant like the other party had something better to do? Chances are, your conversation mate wasn’t practicing one of the most important skills anyone can build: active listening.
Active listening centers on making sure the person you’re talking to feels understood. You use verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate that you are paying attention, that what they are saying matters to you, and that you are interested in what they have to say. The University of Rochester has written the perfect guide to active listening here, and remember, plenty of these tactics can be applied to written communication too: paraphrasing the customer, asking perceptive questions, and recalling previous conversations are all possible in emails.
No more “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It’s a line that’s tired and unhelpful, and your goal is to validate and alleviate your customer’s concerns, not patronize them. Instead, focus on how you can show your customer that:
- You understand their concern. You’ve paid close attention to their words and know what went wrong in this situation.
- Their feelings aren’t just valid, they are important to you. You appreciate them as a customer and want to make things right.
- Ensure you actually say the word “sorry” or “apologize”. Some customer service reps avoid this to save face but it can really harm a relationship.
- Tell them you would like to find a solution for them, and start the discussion about what it could be.
- Thank them for getting in touch and let them know they are valued.
So often, brands offer gestures that still work against the customer when trying to overcome negative feedback. They offer a discount code which means the customer has to shop again. Instead of a refund, they offer credit. Be prepared, though, to take the hit in order to save a relationship. Start by asking the customer what they’d like to see as a solution and go from there. If you can honor it, please do. If not, try and think of an alternative that is still beneficial to them.
Got a physical product with a defect? Maybe your customer was upset their parcel was insufficiently wrapped? Any time you hear from a customer, it’s a learning opportunity. Take their feedback to the people in your organization who are best placed to prevent similar issues in the future. Over time, you should see a decrease in complaints on that subject; if not, it’s time to strategize.
- It’s rare that consumers ever speak up about a poor customer experience, so be respectful of those who do.
- Your reviews matter as much to your brand as your logo design, so always reply.
- Reply to concerns as quickly as possible and humanize your reply to avoid further frustration.
- Learn how to genuinely apologize and ensure resolutions actually benefit the customer.
- Stay positive because excellent customer service can turn a customer from a critic to a fan.
- Learn from every interaction and share your learnings to avoid similar issues in the future.
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