Customers are the king. However, some customers may be difficult to handle, and the hassles of engaging with such customers may not seem worth it. However, in today’s highly competitive age, businesses need to cling on to every customer and try converting a difficult customer to a happy customer.
The causes for customer grouse can be many, lengthy wait times, delays, rude or discourteous behavior from staff, or anything else. Businesses need to understand why the customer is angry or dissatisfied. They need to get to the root cause of their discontent. Often, the grouse they show to a customer support executive may just be the symptoms of an underlying problem. For instance, poor communication is one underlying reason for customers to frequently raise complaints.
Often, customers get annoyed when they feel hard-done. They could feel the business has overcharged them, not passed on an agreed upon offer or discount, issued a faulty bill, or any other related issue.
Manual quote generation increases the chances of slip-ups and errors which could lead to such customer dissatisfactions. A field service management suite with an integrated quote module automates quote generation, delivering highly accurate quotes and auto-generated quotes to customers, immediately. The FSM software would also automate invoicing, accurately pulling in the number of hours’ works, agreed-upon rates from the quote, and all other relevant details from the system, to generate highly accurate invoices, delivered instantly to the customer when the work is over. The customer is also kept in the loop at every stage through emails and notifications, reducing the chances of miscommunication or forgotten verbal agreements.
Related Reading: You may also like to know how paperless field service management can help you enhance customer satisfaction. Read on to learn everything about digital forms.
At times, the customer may be difficult to handle not because of anything the company did. The customer may be primarily angry owing to their life-stress, domestic issues, or work challenges. The problem in hand itself may simply accentuate the stress. For instance, a stressed-out customer who is freezing because his HVAC system has broken down would likely take out his stress on the field service technician who comes to repair the unit.
The root cause of such annoyance is the customer losing control. Here again, clear communications would help. Listen to the customer and extract facts from what they have to say. Unhappy clients tend to say a lot, and they speak fast. Gather facts by listening to the details. Repeat what the customer said, for confirmation. Record the conversation, and extract meaningful points from it.
A field management suite is again a valuable accessory. The suite could record the conversation, subject it to analytics, and extract meaningful insights from it, for prompt follow-up or remedial action. The customer could also use the FSM suite to track the technician in real-time, with a definite ETA, to alleviate some of his stress.
At times, a bad experience may be the underlying reason for a difficult customer. Horrible service, long delays, or anything else in the past may have left a bad taste in the mouth. Making promises may not alleviate the situation, and worse, if the promise remains unfulfilled for any reason, even for reasons which may be directly attributable to the customer themselves, the situation would only get worse. Rather, empathize with the customer. Many difficult customers calm down when given an opportunity to vent their ire. In fact, the most brutal and honest feedback may come from such disclosures.
Have policies (such as the 24-hour rule) in place, before replying to an angry customer, to avoid flaming up the issue. Make sure to encode these policies in the FSM suite and other channels of communication, to ensure consistency in approach.
However, such policies notwithstanding, never hesitate to engage with dissatisfied customers proactively. Take cognizance of customer dissatisfied from any possible channel, be it social media listening tools, feedback forums, customer support reach outs, point of sale skirmishes, or any other channel. Understand each customer is unique, and a laid-out resolution methodology in any handbook may not suit all dissatisfied customers. Engage with each dissatisfied customer on a personal basis.
Many companies give away discounts, free coupons, letters of apologies and refunds to placate angry customers. Most companies apologize for up front. However, merely giving away such doles might not alleviate the situation, or fit the customer’s expectation. Use these gestures as additional sweeteners, after resolving the core issue of the discontent. Ask the client for solutions. Often the client is unhappy because they react emotionally. Calming the client down, taking them into confidence, and giving them a say in the proposed resolution would help them approach the issue in a better light.
Simultaneously, have a good information system in place, capture the client discontent, and add it to the corporate or customer service manual, to ensure such situations do not repeat. Make the necessary changes to the company systems and procedures to pre-empt such mistakes, and hardwire those policies in the FSM suite and other software.
Be proactive to identify problems and preempt them, without giving the customer a chance to contact the customer service with the problem in the first place. For instance, if broadband service is disconnected due to breakage in cable, be proactive in informing the customer when service is expected to restart, without waiting for the customer to contact the customer care.
Also, whenever a problem emerges, break the problem down into easily manageable small chunks, and handle each chunk proactively.
The best way to convert a difficult customer to a happy customer is to place the customer first in everything that is done. An enterprise where the customer is forced to adjust accordingly to the process efficiency of the enterprise will generate multiple dissatisfied customers. Rather, an enterprise where the systems and processes are attuned to customer preference is more likely to attain happy customers. The trick is to achieve process efficiency inside such a model.
It costs about five times more to acquire a new customer compared to retaining an existing customer. The business should always have this in mind, and go all out to placate angry or difficult customers. Still better, a win over the customer is most likely to become a valuable ally and brand advocate. Technology is your friend. Harness the power of a field service management software like ReachOut Suite to streamline processes, and make things easy for the customer, removing the major causes of customer discontent.