Let’s face it: You can’t please everyone all the time.
It’s important that your employees understands the difference between helping out a happy customer and spinning their wheels with an angry one. That’s why we asked 10 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) how best to focus your team’s efforts in the right direction when it comes to customer service.
1. Just make sure they’re heard
I read an unbelievable quote by restaurateur, Danny Meyer: “The customer is certainly not always right. But they must always feel heard.” Get to the point where the customer’s issues have been heard, and then move forward. If they are doomed to be unhappy, consider if you want that kind of energy around.
2. Differentiate between good and bad anxiety
In client services, there are two types of anxiety you must learn to differentiate: good and bad. Clients that are never happy no matter how much effort you put in induce bad anxiety. Clients that you can’t wait to show projects to or you want to go the extra mile for create good anxiety. Identifying the type of anxiety and balancing energy input is the key to good work and a happy staff!
3. Make a “most valuable customer” list
Your team is likely not as intimately knowledgable about billings as you are. While of course outwardly “every customer is important” is a great philosophy, it’s just not true. A client is as valuable as their billings and their referral power. Create an internal list of the top clients in order of importance, and stress that they always get priority.
4. Be proactive with happy customers
The importance of dealing with unhappy and angry customers can’t be overstated. However, these customers tend to come at your team. When your team is reactive and dealing with inbound customer interactions, it’s very likely that they’re not spending enough time with your happy customers. Create time and goals for customer outreach to emphasize proactive communication with your happiest customers.
5. Make a blacklist and whitelist
List the angry customers in your blacklist and the happy customers in your whitelist, and have you or your employees log the amount of time you spend on each interaction and what each interaction was about. Then, tally up the total time spent for each list and make it a point to spend more time with interactions on the whitelist versus the blacklist.
– Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
6. Bucket your customers
If an angry customer has already been on a call with a sales rep and seems very unreasonable and time consuming, then make sure to tag the customer in your CRM so all customer service and sales people know that this is a tough customer. This way they will know not to prioritize that person over other customers.
7. Help those who suffer most from the problem you are solving
Surprisingly, it is often easier to turn your angry customers into advocates than your happy ones. If someone spent the time and effort to contact you and complain, it usually means they want your product to solve a problem that’s really important to them. Find a way to resolve their complaints and you can often transition them from your worst complainers to your biggest advocates.
8. Build proactive client relationships
The difference is between customer service (being reactive) and client relations (being proactive). Don’t wait for a customer to call angry. Instead, focus your resources on building client relationships where you proactively set daily or weekly touch points with your clients. Being proactive will eliminate angry clients and will allow your entire staff to focus on building happy relationships.
9. Create standard operating proceedures
Don’t leave it up to employees to figure out how to handle angry customers. Make handling customer challenges a no-brainer by creating a list of SOPs—or standard operating procedures. If something new comes up, document the issue and create a desired response. With SOPs in place, it’s easy to empower employees to make low risk decisions without having to ask a manager.
10. Address the problem areas
People get angry for many reasons, but don’t let these episodes drain your energy. Look at the main reasons they are upset, and see what you can do to solve those issues. If these are clients, are they your best clients, or are they the clients who regularly make irrational demands? If it’s the latter, let them go. Your most valuable clients deserve your most valuable asset: time.
How do you help your team manage their customer service efforts? Share your advice in the comments below.