Everyone who has worked in a customer service position has experienced angry customers. Oftentimes, it becomes an irreversible situation where the customer declares that he or she will not shop at your store or use your service again. Regaining customer’s business is difficult, but not impossible, and once earned, customer loyalty is your greatest asset. The following tips can help you form an effective strategy to win back upset customers.
1. Use your most experienced sales people.
It’s common sense that an experienced team member would be best suited for winning back a customer. An angry customer that feels he or she has been slighted is likely not going to be an easy person to deal with. It is important for a company to delegate its best talent for a job like this.
2. Tell them that they have been missed.
Refer to the customer as an individual rather than as part of a list and attempt to personalize the message to make that customer’s patronage feel valued. Jill Griffin’s book, Customer Winback: How to Recapture Lost Customers–And Keep Them Loyal, details a study where 85 percent of a four-star hotel’s lost gold star customers reactivated their accounts after being given perks by the business to return.
3. Ask them to tell you about their issue.
One study proved that former customers are more likely to consider returning to a business if they are asked why their business was lost. This shows them that the company values the customer’s opinion, as well as reducing tension and suspicion the customer may have.
4. Actively listen to them.
Listening to customers is one of the traits of any successful customer service representative, whether we’re talking about in-person customer service at a brick and mortar store or a call center representative. Call center folks have an advantage because they have call recording software available, but that does not provide any excuses for not listening in the first place. People can sense distraction, whether it’s on the phone or in person… and it really does make a difference in setting a company apart from the competition.
5. Give them a financial benefit.
Offer the customer a discount for a future purchase or a free item. It shows that you are willing to make a small sacrifice for their patronage. This method should be used only on occasion, however, so that the business isn’t taken advantage of.
6. Assure them that the company will improve.
But say it with conviction; customers can usually tell if the customer service rep or manager is being insincere. Having a sincere tone to your words will make them carry more weight, and the customer is more likely to give the business a second chance.
7. Focus on their positive aspects.
By not focusing on the negative experience the customer and speaking about a positive future relationship, it shows the desire to improve situations. When talking to the customer, emphasize their positive qualities as a client if you know them well enough.
8. Use “you” more than “I”
In a conversation using “you” more often gives the message to the speaker that you are intently listening to what they have to say and taking their perspective into consideration. It also answers the customer’s question of “what’s in it for me?” Using self-referring pronouns: I, me, and my, too often, may give your company the image of being self-absorbed and not caring about customers.
9. Use their name.
Forbes.com’s Jacqueline Smith says that customers (and people in general) like being referred to by their name. A person’s name is always one of the most meaningful words to them regardless of what language they speak. Making the effort to learn their name and pronounce it properly instills self-worth in the person and lets them know that you pay attention to detail.
10. The Rule of Three.
Saying one of your main points three times during a conversation with an angry customer is part of the “rule of three” persuasive tactic. You are essentially trying to persuade your customer to return to your business, so why not use a persuasive technique on them? Ideally, this main point is focused on uplifting the customer and is articulated differently each time it is said.
Set yourself apart from your competitors and go above and beyond to show customers that your business cares not only about profits, but also the satisfaction of its customers.
About the author: John Alas works with Marketing Zen Group and writes on behalf of the call center optimization professionals at Kova Corp. His talents are geared toward emphasizing the positive qualities of companies and products and providing content that highlights the unique aspects of a client. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, fitness, and playing JRPGs.