#FPF – Week 5
With the July 4th Holiday upon us, I’d like to explore a parallel between client/customer relationships and fireworks. When things are going well and all is unfolding as anticipated, you are rewarded with a beautiful show in the night sky. When things go wrong however, the situation can quickly turn volatile and reduce what had the potential to be great, into a smoldering pile of ash.
Source: Unknown – Google Image Search
To this point, your best client/customer relationships are not forged when things are going well, but rather when they have the potential to explode into something very bad – and how you choose to handle the situation. At Captivation, we pride ourselves on the level of customer service we offer. We’ve built our business and our reputation on it. We learned a long time ago that in a highly-saturated marketplace of people doing nearly the same thing as you – the one big differentiator you have is delivering the best possible client/customer engagement every time, regardless of circumstance. In good times and in bad.
Dealing with a client who is upset is not always an easy thing at that moment, but if you can navigate the rough waters to an outcome that the client is happy with in the end – you will most always secure yourself a fan for life (and one that will sing your praises to others as well).
Accordingly, here are three main things that we focus on to ensure the best possible outcomes when things aren’t going as they should:
Sounds simple enough, but we have all had an issue that we had to call customer service for and then felt our blood pressure begin to rise as we listened to the “Sorry, our offices are currently closed. Please try again later…” recording on the company’s switchboard.
Granted, some businesses (including ours) don’t have the ability to employ 24-7 support staff to field every call or email, but at the very least – it is critical for you to have processes in place to field all support inquiries during normal business hours as quickly and effectively as humanly possible. This might mean setting up an “on-call” schedule for your staff to ensure that there is always someone waiting at the ready to jump in to a customer issue. However it happens, those who make themselves accessible and do it best, are not only rewarded but also talked about to other people that can use what you offer.
Listen. And Identify the Issue at Hand.
My mother always told me: “we have two ears and one mouth for a reason – we should listen twice as much as we talk.” And she was right. So many of the heated interactions that take place every day could be defused and avoided had both parties just taken the time to listen more than they talked…
Once you have listened to the situation, it’s important to ensure that you have isolated the issue at hand. Without ensuring that you and the client/customer are seeing the same thing wrong, you run the risk of trying to fix something that was never really broken in the first place. Repeating the problem back in your own words helps avoid any miscommunication and ensures you can execute toward the same goal.
Show You Give a Damn. Really.
If nothing else, people want to sense that the person on the other end of the phone or email chain truly cares about the situation at hand and is willing to take ownership of the issue (even if they were not responsible for creating the issue in the first place).
Even if you cannot physically fix the issue yourself (or at all for that matter), the simple fact that you are genuinely doing every you can and showing how much you care about what is happening is often enough to lower your DEFCON status from a 5 to at least a 3.
I hope this information is useful the next time you’re presented with a less than ideal client/customer interaction and it helps you build relationships that will last for many Holidays to come. I wish you & yours a very happy and safe 4th and look forward to next Friday!
Jim @ Captivation