Business operations are inherently challenging, made more difficult by a fluctuating market, an unstable economy, or unhappy customers. Working with people is never easy. No matter how hard you try or how strong your focus, you will never be able to meet everyone’s expectations or provide 100% satisfaction in every single transaction. Customers can be moody, choosing to take their frustrations out on your team who did exactly what was asked or provided a service that would have wowed your competitors. As a business owner, you can’t depend on good customers to keep your reputation going. These are some of the biggest customer service challenges you will face along the way, along with some ideas of how to conquer them successfully.
Challenge #1: Serving More Than Once Customer at a Time
For what it’s worth, everyone wants to feel that their concerns at the most pressing. Today’s consumers are very self-serving, wanting their needs met on their timeframe and in a way that lives up to their expectations (however unrealistic those may be). Multitasking with consumers is always a challenge, but when each consumer has a very self-oriented approach for how you handle problems, you need to quickly figure out a solution. First and foremost, make sure you have a communication system that can handle the volume of customers you serve. Ooma cloud phones are a cloud-based phone system that will transform your company’s communication options. Once you have this settled, you need to address how you respond to each customer. Learn the nuances of putting a customer on hold. Explain your desire to settle the issue, but that you need to research the issue. Always ask if a brief hold would be okay. Once they agree, use this time to quickly respond to another consumer’s needs.
Challenge #2: Dealing With Angry Customers
If there is one thing that is common across all customer service departments in industries around the world, it’s the truth that angry customers exist. Angry seems like such a gentle word when faced with an irate customer that has no control over the tone and decibel of his or her voice. This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to address, and you will find that everyone has an opinion on how to resolve and deescalate the situation. Since there are numerous reasons why a customer may be furious, the best place to start in resolution is through the employee. It is vital that you remain calm, no matter what the individual is saying to you. The customer isn’t really mad at you, but as the representative of the company, there is no other place to direct these angry emotions. Remind yourself that the customer is simply venting and adjust your perspective accordingly. As hard as it is, listen carefully to the heart of the problem being conveyed so your response is more targeted to a solution once the rant is over.
Challenge #3: Being Forced to Issue a Response
You won’t always be able to solve a situation as soon as a customer reveals a problem, but for many customers, there is an expectation of instant results. While you sincerely want to help them, you may not have enough details or information to take action or you aren’t sure of what an appropriate response would be. Don’t feel pressured or rushed into resolution. You can address the customer by saying “I want to give your concern the attention that it needs, and I need to do a little research to provide the best resolution. Would it be alright if I called you back or emailed you this afternoon?” When you can convey that you are taking your time to give the customer your best effort, they are generally more willing to be patient.
Challenge #4: Not Having a Solution for the Problem
Even the most skilled customer service representative will have days when there isn’t an obvious answer to a problem. You aren’t always going to have the answer, and you need to recognize that humility in admitting this will go a long way in solving the problem. You don’t want to convey this small detail to the customer, but you can play off the delay as a need to finalize certain details or aspects of the situation by consulting your manager. Giving yourself permission to not know something and getting your customer to give you some time lets you find a real solution from someone who knows. You ruin your credibility and the company’s reputation when you simply try to fake an answer to the problem.
Challenge #5: Dealing With a Product Defect
You never want to admit that a product or service that comes from your company is defective, and if you aren’t careful in how you phrase your responses, a customer may feel misled or tricked into buying a product. Customers don’t want to hear the word ‘no’ or feel that they wasted their money on something that isn’t of any use to them. Respond to customers with alternative product options if possible, warranty replacements, or informing them of new developments that are in the works. Mentioning that you are glad they brought this to your attention and that you can add it to other feedback from concerned consumers may have the customer feeling like they did your company a favor.
You need a sharp eye for detail, intuition, and patience when riding the potential roller coaster of customer satisfaction. Knowing these challenges and practicing how to face them can improve your chances of providing a resolution that meets everyone’s approval.