No matter what kind of business you run, customers will always have needs, and many of them will have complaints. This is the nature of business; there will be people you can’t please.
That said, customer service is an integral part of the success of any business. It’s a proven fact that bad customer service can quickly sink a business in a short amount of time.
A platform such as Responsely, designed for businesses to collect actionable customer feedback, can improve both products and services.
However, before you get into full-scale customer feedback campaigns, you first need to consider how to respond to your customers and their needs. Some general rules dictate how businesses should engage with their customers.
Courtesy, Courtesy, Courtesy
Perhaps the most essential rule for responding to customers’ needs and feedback is courtesy. Everyone in the service industry has heard the saying, “the customer is always right.”
Of course, this is not always true, but it is right in the sense that if you want these customers to keep spending money with you. You want them to leave good reviews instead of bad ones, so they need to feel like they are in the right, even if they aren’t.
No matter what the customer says or how harsh the feedback, it’s crucial that you remain courteous and polite. Keep your tone of voice in check and watch your language. Never make a customer feel unwanted, unreasonable, or worst of all, unintelligent.
Always Thank Customers for Their Feedback
No matter what the customer has to say, or the reason for their communication, it is essential to thank them for their effort. Even if the customer was not happy with the service or product, thanking them for the effort to relay their thoughts and feelings will make them feel important.
It makes customers feel like their opinions and their needs matter. Even if customers weren’t happy, the fact that you are thanking them for their communication could help resolve the underlying issue. This, in turn, can then prevent this same issue from occurring in the future. Moreover, when customers feel like they matter, they’re much more likely to become repeat customers.
A great way to gain a bit of sympathy from most people and start remedying the situation is merely apologizing. Customers appreciate apologies, and they make them feel heard.
When people feel like they are being heard and their opinions matter, they are much more likely to move forward with a positive mindset.
Even if you are not in the wrong, you have nothing to lose by issuing an apology. Just make sure that it sounds sincere. Customers who are already unhappy will not respond positively to insincere apologies.
Honesty vs. Promises That You Can’t Keep
Something that customer service reps often do is to make promises that cannot be kept. There is nothing worse than having a customer service agent or a business owner make a promise that just cannot be followed through on.
Honesty is always the best approach, even if there is some negativity involved; customers always appreciate honesty. It’s better to be upfront with a customer about an issue they are having than to make a promise that will inevitably fall through.
False promises are the same thing as lies, and if there is one thing customers hate over everything else, it’s being lied to. Unkept promises show unreliability and dishonesty.
You can promise that you will do your very best to investigate and attempt to fix the issue, but never promise that it will be resolved 100%. Doctors never promise their patients or their families that an operation will be a complete success because there are too many unknown variables. You can promise to do your best, but past that, honesty is the best approach.
Offering Alternatives and Workarounds
The fact is that some customers will have needs that you cannot meet.
Whether those needs are beyond your scope or the needs are unreasonable, you need to find a smart way to tell customers that although you may not be able to meet those exact needs, there are workarounds and available alternatives.
The last thing you want to do is tell a customer that you can’t help them. If in any way possible, offer the next best alternative that is likely to satisfy that customer’s needs.
Responding to customer needs really boils down to remaining positive and remembering that “the customer is always right.”
Always be polite, never make customers feel unwanted, never make promises that you can’t keep, and if need be, if you can’t meet those exact needs, offer the next best solution.