Dealing with conflict is no easy feat—especially when it’s coming from an upset customer. Whether it’s problems finding information on your website or frustrations with a particular product or service, any issue has the potential to turn into a major conflict if not handled properly from the start.
For customer support professionals, keeping the tone of conversations with customers both productive and positive can go a long way in ensuring situations don’t escalate. To help you achieve this, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council experts each share their best advice for keeping customer support conversations positive and explain why these tips work so well.
1. Be Grateful For Their Support
Always remember that customers are supporters of your product and that we need to be grateful they trusted our products among millions of other options in the first place. Keeping this in mind will help you truly care about them and be attentive to their needs. Customers, in turn, will appreciate this and work with you productively to address their concerns. – Lianxin He, GrandLine Technologies
2. Mirror The Customer’s Feelings
When speaking with customers, I have found it best to mirror the client’s feelings. If they are upset with your service, you are upset too. If they are happy with your service, you are happy too. It is hard to have an argument with someone who agrees with you. When managing a customer complaint, chances are that you aren’t happy they didn’t have a great experience either, so it comes across as authentic and allows you to chart a path forward. – Alex Chamberlain, EasyLiving Home Care
3. Follow Through
Always follow through with what you said you would. Remember: They are hiring you for a service and, no matter what that service is, customer service should be the top priority. If a project is due on the 15th, I am already communicating with them on the first day of the month and copying whoever else is important to keep that information connected. This will help fix the, “I didn’t get it” or “you didn’t tell me” scenario. It also shows the client that you are on top of things and actually care about them. When times get tough, they will remember who cared for them. – David Chen, GTIF Capital
4. Provide A Human Experience
The reason customers seeking support feel frustrated is because most support services are designed to feel and sound robotic, providing little room for actual customer care. Moving away from this trend and providing more human interaction will help keep conversations productive and positive. The easiest way is to ask open-ended questions and allow the customer to provide more information and feel like they’re being heard. It also gives you a chance to understand the problem better and find a solution. Some examples of open-ended questions to incorporate into your customer support services are: “What happened?”, “What were you trying to do?”, “How did this issue occur?” Customer support that reveals a concern and desire to provide solutions encourages meaningful conversations and trust from customers. – Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
5. Speak In The Future Tense
When training the customer service team, I encourage and demonstrate the benefits of consistently speaking in the future tense. This guides the conversation toward resolving issues and minimizes the amount of time spent on rehashing the problem. Ultimately, the customers are appreciative of our eagerness to resolve issues quickly, which increases our service ratings while allowing us to close support tickets faster. – Carmine Silano, CheerSounds Music
6. Bring A Sense Of Accountability
Customers want to feel like you have their best interests at heart and are a true collaborative partner in completing the service they hired you for. If there is tension, bring a sense of accountability to the conversation, leading with what you could have done better and always having solutions ready to propose to your customer when heading into support conversations. – Nic Weinfeld, Five to Sixty
7. Get Straight To The Issue
To keep support conversations productive, it’s important to get straight to the issue that the customer is facing. The less time it takes to solve their problem, the better. Customers can get frustrated easily if they’re experiencing issues, so practicing patience is essential for good customer service. Pinpoint the problem from the beginning so you can take the necessary steps to find a solution. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
8. Throw Out The Script
The one thing that a customer support representative should do to be productive and positive is throw away the script. I can always tell when a representative is telling me the “policy script.” I hate it to the point that I chastise them. I know customer support representatives have a book of guidelines, possible responses to customer problems and protocols. Even so, they can understand those things and then use their creative minds to help customers. I’ve had customer service reps who stuck strictly to the script and I’ve had some who went outside the box to think of a creative solution to my problem. You can guess my reaction to each. Sometimes, creative solutions aren’t in a script. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
9. Focus On Active, Empathetic Listening
Speak less and listen more. When you elicit responses and reserve feedback until it’s necessary, oftentimes you’ll see that the solution will be less costly to your business as a whole. Most of the time an upset customer just wants to be heard. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance