To work in customer support you must know the company’s product inside out. But apart from that, you also need to be a bit of a negotiator, psychologist and many more. Although all clients and companies are unique, there are situations that are common for the job of a support manager. Knowing how to deal with them will help you to reduce stress and become more effective at work.
1. Your customer is angry
When people face a problem they are likely to become angry, aren't they? Besides, a client may have had a bad day or be down with a terrible cold. Whatever it is that has made them angry, you are likely to receive an aggressive message. How do you help then? How do you sustain the image of the company? Try using Disney’s H.E.A.R.D technique. With over 135 million customers attending their parks, Disney has developed its own set of principles of dealing with angry customers and resolving issues effectively.
- Hearing — sometimes people just need to let you know about their problem and do not expect an immediate solution. Listening to the client’s story without interrupting may be all he/she expects from you.
- Empathizing — express sympathy and understanding. Make your client feel that you are upset because he/she is upset.
- Apologizing is not about agreeing to the complaint, but about letting the client know that you acknowledge their right to be dissatisfied.
- Resolving the issue is what the client expects from you. Offer a solution, an alternative, ask for the time to investigate a problem but don’t leave the client with their problem alone.
- Diagnosing the cause of the issue is essential if you want to prevent future precedents.
2. There's a major problem or a technical issue
Downtimes, service interruptions, hacker attacks are painful for clients, as well as for businesses. A good practice that reduces the impact of the possible issues is having a crisis plan prepared in advance.
Here are the steps to include in the crisis plan for your support team:
- Apologize –a sincere ‘sorry’ helps to overcome anger and move forward.
- Keep your clients informed. Updates can be sent every 30 minutes to demonstrate the progress. Be sure to publish updates via all communication channels including email, blog, social media.
- Publish a summary after the problem has been fixed. Describe the steps that have been taken and state what is going to be done to prevent similar accidents in the future.
3. A customer insists on a personal discount
Discounts can really help you close deals and spur clients to take the final step towards the purchase. But in the long run, they don’t look so effective. Discounts decrease the perception of the products’ value, reduce margins, destroy the integrity of the company pricing strategy. With this in mind, how can you act when a client requests a discount which you cannot provide?
The rule of thumb is not to say a hard ‘no’ as it can really push people away. Instead, try doing the following:
- Say ‘thank you’ for their interest in your product,
- Describe the value of your product, explain how the price is formed,
- Offer a phone call or a Skype meeting to guide the client through the functionality of the product and its advantages.
4. A customer is asking for a feature you are not likely to develop
Development teams have limited resources. Firmly sticking to their roadmaps is what the best product teams are known for. So, it’s likely that most of the features suggested and requested by the customers won’t be added in the immediate future.
How to act when you are asked about a new feature:
- Thank the customer for the time spent sending the request or suggestion.
- Get to the core of the request. In fact, it is the solution for their pains that the clients request. And here comes the next step.
- Try to deal with the task using the existing functionality. It may turn out that it is enough to solve the client’s task. Offer tutorials and user guides to help with their problem.
- Offer to add the request to the ‘suggestions list’ and send a notification when the feature is developed.
5. You don’t have an answer to a customer’s question
Being a good support manager doesn’t mean you should have answers to all the clients’ questions. It means knowing where to find answers. If you can’t help your client on the spot, try doing the following:
- Admit that you can’t answer the question right away. An honest response is better than incorrect information.
- Offer to find out and get back to them. Specify when a customer can expect an answer from you.
6. There are more tickets in your inbox than you can deal with
If your company doesn’t provide 24/7 support it’s likely you can get your inbox overloaded on Mondays. The research conducted by Forrester showed that 41% of customers who took part in the survey expected to receive a response to their tickets within 6 hours.
And here is the clue to the problem. A response doesn’t mean that the problem is resolved immediately. Notify your customer that you are aware of the issue and working on the solution. Certainly, this shouldn't be your everyday practice. But when you are short of time it’s better to respond in time and inform the client about the process than to keep silent for more than 24 hours.
7. A customer requests a refund
The truth is, even the best product isn’t perfect for everyone. So don’t take it personally. A golden rule is if a customer requires a refund that is entitled to them, you should provide it immediately while staying polite and respectful. The study says that 95% of online shoppers will purchase from the company again after a positive return experience.
At some moments, customer service work can be extremely stressful. But having some proven techniques at hand you can reduce stress and increase satisfaction with your work. And remember, angry clients can become the most loyal customers in the future.
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