by Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo
Many businesses have now realized how strategic it is to ensure a good After-Sales service for customer satisfaction. However, despite the efforts undertaken to improve practices and procedures, they still run into missteps that can arouse the ire of the customer and trigger a dangerous negative word-of-mouth. Is one mistake really enough to compromise a long-lasting relationship?
The answer is yes, because customer satisfaction is subject to the so-called “displacement effect” which shifts requests and expectations to higher levels making us take for granted what until yesterday seemed like a special treatment reserved for a few. How to deal with requests and complaints without making mistakes? Follow us in this short, but exhaustive, roundup of the most common and dangerous mistakes in after-sales service, which also includes lots of tips on how to avoid them.
Mistake 1 – Taking it personally and being infected by aggression
When customers call to complain, they are likely to be in an altered emotional state; in most cases they are not angry with you, but they are just venting their frustration. If you are playing the role of middle-person you will have to take into account that in that precise moment you are the only one they can interact with and communicate their emotions to. It is essential to avoid being infected and to exert empathy at the same time. Try to breathe, control your reactions, stay professional and open the conversation with the words “I understand”: a welcoming and understanding reaction calms even the most agitated souls.
Understanding doesn’t mean having to agree
Photo Icons8 team on Unsplash
Mistake 2 – Dismissing what clients say, contradicting them or being distracted
People sometimes go on a rampage over things you might consider trifles or of little importance: very often what seems easy to resolve to your expert eyes may look like an insurmountable mountain to those of the customer. Therefore, stay focused and attentive, paying particular attention to everything your interlocutor cares about. When dealing with special cases avoid using absolutisms such as “it’s never happened!” and prefer softer expressions such as “it rarely happens“.
If something is important for your customers, it becomes important for you too
Mistake 3 – Presuming to have understood without letting your interlocutor finish
It is true that inquiries and issues regarding your products and services can be recurring. Besides, your experience will allow you, after some time, to recognize “on the fly” what the customer is complaining about or asking for. Always allow your customers to fully describe what has happened: as well as avoiding any assessment mistakes ,you will give them the opportunity to feel listened. You will also have the chance to understand what they are expecting from you.
Give the customers the space to explain and let off steam
Photo Adobe Stock
Mistake 4 – Considering only the technical aspects, ignoring the psychological ones
A complaint is first of all a call for attention. In practice, it’s as if the customers told us that they need us because our promises have not been kept, their expectations have not been met and what has happened has caused them distress. For this reason, in case of problems, customers tend to turn to the person in the company they have a stronger bond of trust with. Therefore, the person who receives the request must not only search for a technical solution but he/she must also offer support, leveraging their relationship and thanking the customers for trusting him/her.
In case of complaints, give the customer a reason to stay with you
Mistake 5 – Being rigid with solutions without understanding the goals
Sometimes customers suggest a solution to solve their inconvenience that is not a feasible option for the company. If, for example, it is impossible to “return the goods and receive a full refund” don’t tense up and try to understand with your interlocutors what their final goal is and if there is a different way to achieve it. Maybe their objective is to have a product that fully meets their requirements and you can help them find it. How to understand what is behind a specific request? Through well-asked questions that will allow your interlocutor to reflect and you to understand!
Lead the dialogue with questions to find out what lies beyond
Photo Adobe Stock
Mistake 6 – Defending the company at all costs or accusing colleagues
In our after -sales consultancy we often come across two opposing but equally dangerous attitudes. On the one hand, those who take a clear stand in favor of their customers by shooting against their own companies and colleagues; on the other hand, those who become champions of the organization’s allegedly violated honor . They are both extreme attitudes that must be avoided considering the fact that we are not in court, therefore there are no guilty and innocent, nor judgments to give. Stay focused on finding present and future solutions , and leave in the past what cannot be changed.
Learn from every mistake, focus on solutions and not justifications
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Mistake 7 – Not keeping the customer informed during the process
It might happen that, while we are dedicating ourselves to finding the best solution, customers call us angrily because after their initial requests no one has contacted them and they have felt abandoned. It is essential to keep our customers constantly updated with phone calls or alignment emails so as to share steps, choices, work progress, and give them tangible proof that we are working for them.
Take the time to update the customer
Mistake 8 – Using too sector-specific language
The solutions you propose to respond to inquiries or resolve complaints must be understandable. Don’t be annoyed if your interlocutor “does not understand” because he/she is not an expert in your sector: otherwise, they wouldn’t have turned to you for help. Dwelling on bureaucracies and detailed procedures could lead the client to think that you are using them as an alibi for not giving help. Instead, try to explain clearly and patiently what you can do for him/her.
Explaining in a simple way is the ability of prepared people
Mistake 9 – Trying to fix it with a discount
Not everything can be solved with money. A dissatisfied customer seeks, through the request for a discount, some sort of compensation for the incident; convincing someone to stay faithful to us for economic reasons devalues the product/service purchased and only postpones the farewell. First of all, undertake to offer a satisfying solution, then if you want you can add an economic plus – in the form of a gift or more favorable conditions – to serve as the icing on the cake.
Use after-sales to increase the perceived value of your offer
Photo Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash
Mistake 10 – Not checking the resolution
A complaint is closed when the customer has solved his/her problem, not when you have finished working on the solution. It is therefore important to make sure that everything is in order.
A good check will also allow you to positively anchor your customers by making them publicly express their satisfaction. Many are afraid to ask for feedback in case the complaint is not fully resolved and they have to reopen it; remember that an unsatisfied customer remains unsatisfied even if he/she does not tell us directly, with the aggravating circumstance that we won’t have done anything to keep him/her loyal and avoid negative word-of-mouth.
Facing our fears is the only way to overcome them
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In order to have happy customers, we must take care of them when everything is fine and, even more so, when there is something in the user experience that doesn’t meet their expectations.
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You might find useful to re-read our article on complaint management also published on this blog, which clarifies procedures and methods for timely management of customer care services.
| partem claram semper aspice |
The photos used - where not owned by the editorial team or our guests - are purchased on Adobe Stock and IStockPhoto or downloaded from platforms such as UnSplash or Pexels.
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