Like anyone in a relationship knows, anger can be an irrational beast.Customers are only human, and they can easily become unsatisfied with service issues from your fleet company. These complaints can range from a variety of areas—installation, training, troubleshooting, maintenance—and it’s all up to a calm individual to ease the pain. The role of service representatives should be to contain customer anger and stop it from blowing up into action.
The Internet has made the job of complaining very easy and equally as painful to its subject. The reputation of a company can be thrown to the ravenous mouths of Internet lions in a matter of seconds; don’t become a victim of this. It may be easier said than done, but learning how to keep customer anger at bay is crucial to successful operation management.
So how do you handle customer complaints on a beautiful day like today? Three ways: listen, empathize and find a fair solution.
1) Listen to complaints with an open ear. The customer isn’t always right, but it’s not your job to tell them. As author Rebecca Morgan wrote in her book, Calming Upset Customers, “Knowing how to resolve the conflict quickly and professionally can make a big difference in how employees perform their jobs and how customers feel about the organization.” Both understanding the situation and finding an appropriate solution is completely contingent on how well you to listen to the customer’s problem.
2) Empathize with the customer’s situation. Pretend the customer is a friend telling you about a bad day at work. Engage in the conversation. Pose questions. Act like you truly commiserate with their situation (because you know you’ve been there before). Nobody takes the time to complain unless they feel that their concerns are valid. Saying things such as, “That’s terrible, I apologize for that. I would love to help you solve that problem” help assuage any antagonism that the customer may feel. As Aristotle once said, “To perceive is to suffer.” Sympathy helps decrease defensive behavior and increases the likelihood that the customer will cooperate.
3) Find a fair solution. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, and I might post a complaint on the Internet. Customers simply want their problem fixed, no matter how big or small it may be. If they don’t find a relief, they might turn to a bigger audience, such as an Internet message board, to find a forum for their anger. Don’t let it get to that point. Leave the conversation with the customer accepting that your fleet company’s solution is fair and appropriate.
The customer will remember you, and hey, you may even find yourself patted on the back.