Customers are the cornerstone of any business – they bring in the money, act as your PR agency and help to build your brand. Building customer loyalty and trust takes time. Despite our greatest efforts to deliver excellent services and products, there are times when our clients may be unhappy.
Often, our management staff needs to “solve” a situation, on their feet, acting swiftly for a peaceful and agreeable solution. At Acara, we like to use the THANKS method to diffuse and resolve customer conflicts. It is an acronym for a set of actions that can easily help to resolve any customer situation.
T : Thank the customer for bringing the situation/problem to your attention. Customers like to be heard – let them talk first and you listen.
- 26 out of 27 customers who experience poor service do not complain, they just never come back.
- Use the opportunity to build customer loyalty.
H : Hear the complaint fully without interrupting the customer. Listen carefully.
- Be prepared to be the best listener in the world.
- Keep yourself focused; you want information to lead to a solution.
A : Apologize for the inconvenience the customer has experienced.
- You are not accepting blame, but acknowledging the customer’s displeasure and inconvenience.
- Find a point that you can both agree on.
N : Need more information. Sometimes the above may not lend you all the information that you need to make a reasonable and fair decision.
- Encourage customer “Tell me more” or “Walk me through the situation.”
- Expand your customer’s knowledge.
K : Know a solution for the customer and be prepared to propose it. If you don’t know the answer, go the extra mile to provide appropriate information in a timely manner.
- Ask the customer how they would like the situation resolved. ” What can we do right away to get this situation straightened out?”
S : Solve the problem or find someone who can. Be familiar with the company policy for returns and complaints. There is nothing more irritating to a customer to have to wait for a result. You want to provide immediate resolution to the conflict.
In handling any customer complaint you want to be sure that you take action and have follow through. Showing sincere interest and concern about resolving any situation is what the customer wants to hear, even if you can’t give them exactly what they want. Be sure to give specifics about whatever action plan is developed, if immediate follow through is not possible, give specific dates and times the customer will hear from you. Follow up and follow through are the keys to developing and retaining customer trust and loyalty.