What do angry customers want? A heartfelt apology.
I feel your pain.
The controversy over whether to offer an apology to a customer surfaced during a recent workshop. When I recommended using an apology to diffuse the anger of an irate customer, one of the supervisors in the group vehemently disagreed. She said that her manager had given her strict
instructions to never apologize to a customer because doing so would be an admission of guilt by the company. If the matter ended up in court, admitting fault could result in a judgment in favor of the customer.
Apologizing to an angry customer isn’t about taking the blame. It’s about showing you care.
Early in my consulting career I learned the value of an apology. I wanted to know what high performing agents did that enabled them to resolve customer complaints in a minimum amount of time and generate high marks for customer satisfaction.
What I discovered from listening to their calls was that these agents did one thing consistently: at the beginning of the call they showed empathy for the plight of the customer. I noticed that, as if by magic, when they started the conversation with, “I am sorry that happened …” “I can see how frustrating this must be for you …” or “I apologize for the inconvenience…” the customer immediately became calm and receptive. These agents understood a Basic Truth of Customer Service: all any customer wants when they call with a problem is to have the agent listen to their story, acknowledge their pain, and take responsibility for resolving the issue.
This week, if you don’t already have a few handy phrases to communicate empathy, consider doing so. You will find that showing compassion for the suffering of another person works wonders for your relationship.
Make it a wonderful week,
2012 © Barbara Burke. All rights reserved.
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