Calling customer support always has the potential to irritate a client. A slip of the tongue, failure to resolve the issue or even the absence or an apology will quickly turn your customer into an unhappy one. Sorry as a Service works with close to a hundred different companies who all have different approaches to handling unsatisfied customers. Based on this experience, we’ve identified 3 essential steps for turning unhappy customers into happy customers, who won’t hesitate to boast about their excellent customer service experience to their friends.
Firstly, take responsibility and admit that you’re at fault. Of course you need to use your common sense, especially in a B2B situation where your customer might be trying to run you over with a bad idea, but in general, when dealing with your customers, take responsibility and put all the burden upon yourself. Research shows that people needs to feel that fairness is being maintained. Even if your customer is the definition of “user-error”, they’ll feel more fairly treated if you take full responsibility.
Secondly, be sincere! People can tell if they’re receiving a generic “sorry” from a customer service agent, and it only makes things worse . Have a genuine personal connection with your customer, be it over the phone or through their mailbox. Your sincerity, demonstrated through an empathetic response, builds a personal connection with the customer . Tell your customer not only that you are sorry, but WHY you are sorry. “I’m sorry we didn’t show up at the scheduled time. I would hate it if a company did that to me when I’d taken time off work to wait for my plumber. This is just unacceptable - I am truly sorry!” This works because the customer wants you to feel their frustration, and if they feel you reach this point of understanding, forgiveness is right around the corner!
Thirdly, make sure you don’t have to apologise for the same issue twice. There is no point in apologising for recurring issues, as this only makes things worse for your customer relationship. Demonstrate your seriousness as a company by fixing your issues instead of constantly pushing them into the future, shoving away potential loyal customers in the process. You can be the best apologiser in the world, but if you have to apologise all the time, you simply won’t be taken seriously.
At Sorry as a Service we obviously spend a lot of time thinking about how to apologise well. And some of our most valuable experiences come from when we’re the ones messing up (it’s only human to fail…). We once managed to bill a client prematurely: cue a long chain of angry emails. Lucky for us we’re experts in the field so after claiming responsibility, connecting with the client CEO on a personal level, showing our empathy and sending them flowers, chocolates and handwritten cards, we managed to secure them as one of our most loyal clients!
We humans have a natural tendency to only care about those we form some sort of personal connection with, and without it your customer won’t care what happens to you or your company. Turn the negative experience of an unsatisfied customer into an opportunity to engage them with your business through a personal, sincere and tailored apology. Not only will it help you retain customers and reduce churn, but those customers who fell in love with your company will tell their friends!