Handling The Upset Customer
Many times in my career I have been exposed to a simple and effective system to help deal with an irate or upset customer. There are other variations of this system, but the most effective I have found, and use, is what is called the service LEAP. If you are facing a customer that is angry, upset, irate, or any other form of dissatisfaction, you can effectively handle the situation by taking the LEAP. Just four easy to follow steps that can make a huge difference in your customer service skills. Remember these simple steps and add them to your service toolbox. You will find the LEAP to be one of the most effective tools available, I know I have.
Step number one: LISTEN
Listen to the customer, let them vent, let them get it out of their system; allow them to say everything they want to say without interrupting them. As you actively listen to the customer you can often learn all you need to know. You may hear some details about the situation that can give you a clue to the best way to enact step number four. By listening and letting the customer say all they want to say, you are not only learning about what has upset the customer, but you are also helping the customer to deal with their emotions on the subject. Once they have worked through their initial emotions then they are more open to a resolution. For the most part, the customer simply wants somebody to listen to them, to feel that their concerns are important. Just as any of us, the customer needs to feel like they really matter. You can accomplish this by just listening to them.
Step number two: EMPATHIZE
Empathize with the customer. Let them know you understand why they are upset about the situation. Share your understanding and that if you were in their place you too would be feeling the same way. Nobody wants to feel like they are all alone, and if you let the customer know that you understand their feelings in this situation, they know that they are not alone. You become an advocate of theirs and they will now look to you to set things right. Make sure you are sincere about your empathy. People can tell if you are sincere or if you are just trying to fake it. If the customer feels you are faking it, they will only become more upset. In these tense situations you really don’t want to add fuel to the fire.
Step number three: APOLOGIZE
This is a crucial part of the LEAP. It is important to apologize to the customer. Now keep in mind, you are not accepting responsibility, you are not saying that you are at fault for what the customer experienced. You are simply apologizing for the incident. You are telling the customer that you are sorry the situation even occurred in the first place. Do not, I repeat, do not place blame. It does no good to place blame for the problem on somebody else. For one thing the customer really does not care who is at fault, they just want the problem to be fixed. By blaming somebody you also demonstrate that your company or service is not efficient. It sounds to the customer that your business does not know what’s going on and all you have working with you are people who can’t perform their jobs. As a customer service professional you should be sorry that any customer does not receive the best service experience each and every time they deal with your company. When the experience is not perfect, regardless of who is at fault, you should apologize to your customer. This lets them know you care about them, that you care about their business.
Step number four: PROBLEM-SOLVE
This is the most important part of the LEAP. It can also be the most fun part too. Solve the problem; find a way to fix the situation. You have listened to the customer, you know what the problem is, you have expressed empathy to show you understand the customer’s point of view, you apologized that the customer experienced the problem. Now, fix it. Make things right for the customer. Come up with two suggestions that could solve the problem and explain the two options to the customer. Let them choose which solution would work best for them. Tell the customer how you are going to implement the solution they chose and actually do what you said you will do. Communicate with the customer; let them know what steps you have taken and when they can expect the final resolution to take place. Be sure they are happy with the process and that the problem was completely solved. There you have it. The service LEAP, four simple steps that can make the biggest impression on your upset customer. If you can save a customer by fixing the problem right away, you have a loyal customer for life. Memorize the LEAP and try it the next time you are faced with an irate customer. You may be surprised how easy it works.