Wednesday, 19 June 2013

4 Simple Steps for Handling Disgruntled Customers

by Louise Brown, NCU

The secret of many a man's success in the world resides in his insight into the moods of men and his tact in dealing with them.  ---J. G. Holland
Psychologists often provide valuable insights into getting along with people by understanding their temperaments, whether they are sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric or melancholic. World renowned writer, Florence Littauer, in her book How To Get Along With Difficult People, offers great advice for a better understanding of these different personality types. However, on many occasions, our frequency of interactions with customers provide little or no time to develop lasting relationships which will provide the catalyst for knowing, anticipating and resolving their various needs.  
Very often, when customers call with their countless issues, quick thinking skills need to be employed in assuaging their fears and offering a solution to the problem being faced.  Many times, we are tempted to match the wits and verbal assaults of our customers, but such actions merely serve to infuriate both the customer and ourselves.  Hence, I am sharing these valuable guidelines to aid in effectively handling dissatisfied customers:
1.       Listen and Empathize – Allow the customer to express his/her grouses without interruptions. Show genuine concern for the customer by expressing that you understand or can imagine the difficult situation being faced by him/her. 
2.       Apologize – When appropriate, allow the customer to know that you are apologetic for the problem or the issue he/she is currently experiencing, even when you are not at fault.  Take full responsibility for any inconvenience and avoid passing the blame to others.
3.       Act – Offer solutions to the issue being faced and begin implementing the necessary steps to have it resolved.
4.       Follow-through – Avoid a recurrence of the initial issue and implement the plan effected in Step 3 to ensure that the customers’ needs are met.  Go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the relationship with the customer is maintained, not destroyed.
While we are aware that some customers are just impossible to please, once these four simple steps are followed, we would be well on our way to satisfying a major part of our customer base and have not only satisfied, repeat customers but also unpaid public relations agents.  According to Andrew Jensen, Business Efficiency Consultant, “By listening, remaining calm, offering solutions, and performing follow ups, you can find the best solution that may prevent losing that customer.”
With the dismal economic future looming ahead, not only in Jamaica but worldwide, it is only prudent to ensure that our actions as workers will aid in retaining the customers who have opted to conduct business with our institution.  The institutions providing tertiary-level education are numerous and in many instances, undifferentiated in their programme offerings. Maintaining a competitive advantage in this market therefore, requires a set of skills crucial for gaining insight into the moods of our customers and developing the tact necessary for dealing with them. Let us exhibit the core values of this noble institution and demonstrate to our customers that NCU truly CARES.
Jensen, Andrew. How to Handle an Upset Customer. Accessed online at: