Even when the incident has been caused, or perpetuated by the customer, YOU must take the high road and continue your efforts until the situation is resolved. Perhaps there is a part of your process that is not laid out properly, or your Return or Guarantee policies are not clearly stated?
Always look to see where you can take responsibility and make your system or flow better, more intuitive, or easier to use or understand. Let’s say someone is angry because they want to return opened product – even though your Return Policy clearly states you only accept unopened product. A caring way to state that would be:
“I’m sorry our Return Policy on our site was difficult to find. Do you have a suggestion for where or how we could improve placement so other people don’t go through this kind of misunderstanding?”
So you would NOT reply: “Our Return Policy – plainly viewable at the top of the page – clearly states that…” As this is inflammatory and uncaring. Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes and feel into WHY they are upset or hurt.
Here’s another example of a customer complaint we received recently at our health biz:
Email from customer: I guess you don’t believe in answering messages or answering phone calls, well screw you. Business must be good for if it wasn’t I would hear from you. If I ever become successful in business I just hope that I don’t turn out to be so disconnected from people who need help. The same goes for Jini who must be living in the lap of luxury by now and not giving a hoot in people only cares about her money and fame. She has a short memory.
What actually happened: A customer sent three emails on Tuesday and we sent a response which addressed everything from them but, unfortunately, he had opted out of email communication some time ago so the response did not go through. He called Tuesday evening and we tried calling him back twice on Wednesday (left a voicemail each time). He then called back Thursday evening and we attempted to get in touch Thursday as well. Since we were having so much difficulty reaching him by phone – and he’d “opted out” of email communication. We overrode our system and opted him back in and then sent him an email explaining what happened, apologizing for the trouble, and answering all of his questions (plus we told him that he could re-opt out by clicking the link at the bottom, if he wants).
As you can see, this is nobody’s “fault” – just the way technology works. I totally understand this man’s frustration and hurt. But it’s ironic when you see how hard we’d been trying to get in touch with him! All ended well though, he posted a (nice) message on my Facebook page, so I was able to tell him why we were unable to reach him. And then our last email (where we manually opted him back in again) also reached him.
His response: I just had my computer fixed and that could be the problem. Just when I thought that no one cared anymore, so thankyou so much.
So here you see the hurt and abandonment that was his core, underlying issue. When people yell or rant at you, it is usually about their own woundings. So when you are handling customer (or site visitor) complaints – always put yourself in their shoes and allow yourself to actually FEEL how incredibly frustrated and rejected they must be feeling. Remember that it is always hurt, frustration and pain that underlie anger – so don’t respond with anger or hurt of your own!
Instead, respond with understanding, compassion and the patience of Job (biblical reference to a man named Job who suffered greatly when God was testing him, and then was rewarded handsomely for his steadfastness). Your customer service is one of the most important facets of your business – don’t settle for less than your absolute best.