How may I help you? Have you ever said those words to someone? Has anyone ever approached you with that question? Good customer service begins with proper assessment of the situation, circumstances, and demeanor of the person with whom you are talking. Handling irate people, an unfortunate situation, or misunderstanding takes a lot of patience. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Just this week I had a long conversation with a doctor’s office in regards to an $8.00 charge for copies of medical records that I had not requested. I didn’t really have issue with paying the $8.00 so when I called them to get an explanation, they stated they had not sent me a bill for $8.00. Which ironically I was holding in my hand. Two hours and four people later they finally found their error. Unfortunately for them, by that time I was frustrated, aggravated, and somewhat shocked at what appeared to be gross incompetence. In that case, I was on the customer end of the phone.
Trying to keep your cool is hard to do sometimes. It made me think of the time I received a call from one of our students. She needed help with an assessment and was having technical difficulties. The student was angry and somewhat hard to deal with. I followed the steps below to diffuse the situation, reassure the student, and get to the bottom of the issue. Soon the student was feeling confident and was on her merry way. I hope these tips will help you the next time you receive a call from a frustrated client, customer, or disgruntled individual.
- Introduce yourself and calmly ask the person’s name and commit to calling them by it for the duration of the call. Doing so humanizes each person which helps decrease the urge to blast some random person on the other end of the phone.
- Ask”How may I help you?”. This immediately tells them you are here to be a part of the solution and are ready to help them.
- Restate the problem and sympathize with their frustration. “So your internet is broken?, I know that is very frustrating.”
- Probe with direct questions to discover the REAL issue. Sometimes people are unable to articulate their issue clearly. It is your job to gently ask for additional information. “I understand your internet is broken. What happens when you try to go to a website? Do you get an error message or do you get a connection message?”, etc.
- Once the issue is resolved be sure to follow up with a call or email.
Recently we pulled our own service levels and I am happy to report the majority of survey participants reported that:
• Their support request was resolved.
• We understood their problem.
• We provided a clear answer.
• The solution we provided worked.
• We responded in a timely manner.
• We were equally available anytime from 8:00 am till 11:00 pm
• Support requests were answered in less than an hour.