3. Express empathy when needed
When customers are disappointed by a bad experience, the CSR should pause, ‘take a step back’ and let them vent. By not stepping up to try to provide an instant solution, which can further aggravate the problem, the CSR instead provides the opportunity for customers to be expressive about their negative experience. No one listens to reason when upset and emotional.
Timing is crucial in addressing complaints. Once customers have had the opportunity to vent, the CSR can step in and rephrase what has been heard as the complaint, to make sure all of the details are correct.
Only then can a few options be presented with the hope of solving the problem. It is also very important at this point to apologize to the customer. Saying ‘sorry’ does not always mean the CSR did something wrong, but it conveys that the CSR appreciates where the customer is coming from and feels bad about the negative experience.
Remember, when customers push your buttons, it is because they are angry. So, knowing how to stay calm during the process will come down to how well you can understand and manage your own emotions.
4. Take responsibility on behalf of the team
As mentioned earlier, the internal culture of a franchise is reflected externally to customers. So, team skills are a must.
If someone on the team errs or is unavailable when needed, it is up to the rest of the team to take responsibility. If one CSR takes a call about a matter that another associate was working on, for example, it is not appropriate to pass the buck by asking the customer to call back when that associate has returned to the office. Instead, the CSR should take detailed notes and try to resolve the problem to the best of his/her ability.
Customer service involves random calls, after all, and each should be treated equally. Follow-through is very important.
5. Try to have problems solved without supervisor involvement
Similarly, some junior CSRs try to avoid ‘sticky situations’ by forwarding uncomfortable calls to their manager, so they are off the hook and do not have to deal with complex issues. They should instead gather as much information as possible about the situation and talk it out with the customer, once that customer is calm.
Only if, after trying to brainstorm a fair solution to the problem, the CSR reaches a dead end, then it is time to go to the manager for further advice. The manager in turn will appreciate the CSR’s efforts, because providing all of the details about the particular situation will make the job less complicated.