Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Clarifying Customer Concerns
Customers who know they need help, but just can’t articulate their needs begin their customer support experience frustrated. To overcome this frustration and the confusion that fuels it, a customer support representative must be calm and reassuring at every opportunity. Start by encouraging the customer to explain everything about the issue at hand. Allowing them to talk it out clarifies the issue while giving the customer the chance to vent their frustrations. Once the customer is finished, repeat back all relevant details to demonstrate that the issue has been heard and understood.
If this initial explanation doesn’t provide enough information to identify the problem, ask questions to narrow down the likely causes of the customer’s concerns. As a better understanding of the issue develops and the best course of action is determined, let the customer know exactly what steps will be taken next and their expected outcome. Make sure to address every question a customer has. Any questions ignored will add to a customer’s confusion and could lead to a misunderstanding of the issue. An assumption made with too little information can lead to an attempt to solve the wrong problem, resulting in more confusion and frustration for the customer.
In cases where a representative still has difficulty determining the issue after following these steps, it’s time to defer to a manager. Keep the customer in the loop when bringing in someone else to help. In addition to offering the assurance that someone’s working on the problem, the knowledge that a manager is personally looking into the case demonstrates that the company cares about finding a satisfactory solution.
Every customer service representative should strive to know the products he or she represents well and be familiar with the likely issues customers may experience. When a customer is confused, it is especially important to demonstrate that the company’s representative is not. Once customers know they’re in knowledgeable, competent hands, it should give them the confidence to worry less about the problem and instead focus on the solution.
At every step, keep the customer informed of what’s being done to solve the issue, how long it’s likely to take, and the expected result. The best tool to alleviate a customer’s confusion is knowledge. With the proper attention, tone and a careful analysis of the information provided by a customer, most customer concerns should be easy to clarify and resolve.