Posted by Gavin McMahon
March 3, 2015
Employee + Customer
Are â€œpoliteâ€ conversations ruining your numbers? Yes, probably. That sounds ridiculous, doesnâ€™t it? Hear us out.
The [ASU â€œCustomer Rageâ€] study shows 56 million American households experienced at least one problem during the past 12 months, and about $76 billion in revenue was at stake for the businesses involved.
Complaint handling is one of 5 top key drivers of brand loyalty and drives both revenue and efficiency when done right.
In 2013, Arizona State Universityâ€™s School of Business did a study on â€œcustomer rageâ€, and what angry customers really want in order to feel satisfied.
The results expose a misconception we have about what our customers want when theyâ€™re angry with our company. We think they want money. They donâ€™t. They want you to have a conversation with them that conveys empathy, and understanding. When this happened, satisfaction doubled from 37 to 74 percent. This misconception is costing you a lot of money, and itâ€™s hurting your business. .
Good conversations go further than saying â€œIâ€™m sorryâ€ in a disengaged tone, and handing out monetary compensation. Hereâ€™s how we build them.
THE COURTESY COIN
Conversations can be very simple if you pay attention. Think about the most consistent recurring obstacles your organization has with your customers. The root is most likely not the technical problem, but rather the conversation.
Conversations involve both the problem and the person.
When you have a conversation with a customer where do you think you put most of your focus right now? The person, or the problem? (Be honest! There are no wrong answers here.) Right now, most of us donâ€™t focus on both sides. We do what weâ€™re trained to do: solve problems. What happens when we focus only on the problem though? We are not positioning the entire conversation (or solution) in the right way and the customer starts responding to that. They get anxious/frustrated/confused/entitled/many other escalated emotions, and you start losing them.
Letâ€™s break it down even further. There are four essential components in building a successful conversation.
You can use polite words but that doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re connecting. Scripts often tee up a lot of â€œIâ€™m sorry, Maâ€™am/Sirâ€, â€œI hope I solved your problemâ€ but without sincerity. Theyâ€™re empty and your customer knows it. The conversation starts off on the wrong foot if you, the professional, are rude. Your customers react poorly to it, and any chance to build rapport is immediately sabotaged.
Establish respect in a conversation by being polite. Itâ€™s the price of entry.
Customers know when youâ€™re not engaged, and it sends a message that you donâ€™t care. Customers donâ€™t trust people who donâ€™t care.
We have to listen. Why? Because itâ€™s the fastest way to start building that trust and confidence. When youâ€™re aware of what the customer is saying (and isnâ€™t saying), you have the opportunity to find out more, and drive to the right resolution faster.
This is a critical step in establishing trust and building confidence: if a customer thinks you donâ€™t get the gravity of the situation, they donâ€™t trust that youâ€™re going to work on their behalf.
So what can you do? Express empathy. Speak the customerâ€™s language. Tell them you know this is causing them hassle.
Sometimes we canâ€™t solve the customers’ problem in the way they want us to. We can still leave them feeling good about the experience, though. How do we walk this tightrope of business policies and procedures that may tie our hands, while still going the extra mile for the customer? Use our knowledge to present options, find a way to take ownership and avoid saying â€œNO, I canâ€™tâ€. Being willing is the most difficult aspect of the Courtesy Coin. Itâ€™s hard to do. However, if our customers know that weâ€™re trying to work out options, they will be much more tolerant.
Solving problems for our customers is only a part of what makes them loyal to us. Having conversations that are polite, aware, concerned and willing is what theyâ€™re truly hoping for.
Tara isÂ Customer Experience Research Lead at fassforward Consulting Group. She blogs about Customer Experience atÂ fassforward.com. You can follow her on twitterÂ @TaraPaluck. More atÂ LinkedIn.Â Comments are welcome, links are appreciated. If you’re interested in writing guest posts for this blog, pleaseÂ contact me.
Gavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at fassforward.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.