Building Loyal Customers from Dissatisfied Customers

Non assertive way in handling customer complaints

One of the biggest areas that I address with my customers through training and development of personnel is building and maintaining customer rapport and loyalty, whether that be from the very first contact with the customer or at any other stage in the customer journey, including when the customer is not happy with your services.

Assuming that everyone is in agreement with maintaining customers and building loyalty, rather than looking for new customers to replace them, what needs to take place when a customer complains? Here are two scenarios:

Scenario 1

Customer:    “Good afternoon, Mr X, I am calling about the recent holiday my wife and I went on which was organized and reserved through Sun Travel.”

Agent:  “Good afternoon Mr X, how may I help you?”

Customer:  “We have returned from our holiday and can only say that it was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish.  The flight out was delayed, not your fault, but still not a good start!  The hotel was overbooked so we were re-booked into a hotel down the road, at best was 2*.  Our tour guide spoke little English and appeared to only be interested in going home.  From here it does not get any better!”

Agent:  “Oh why didn’t you tell us before coming back and we would have sorted this out?  Now there is very little that we can do!  I will put you through to my manager.”

Scenario 2

Customer:    “Good afternoon, Mr X, I am calling about the recent holiday my wife and I went on which was organized and reserved through Sun Travel.”

Agent:  “Good afternoon Mr X, how may I help you?”

Customer: 

“We have returned from our holiday and can only say that it was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish.  The flight out was delayed, not your fault, but still not a good start!  The hotel was overbooked so we were re-booked into a hotel down the road, at best was 2*.  Our tour guide spoke little English and appeared to only be interested in going home.  From here it does not get any better!”

Agent:  “Mr X, this is extremely disturbing to hear.  I am so sorry for everything you have been through, and to be quite honest, very surprised!  Certainly we would have liked the opportunity to solve these issues whilst you were still on holiday, however that is not possible now as I understand you have already returned?

What I am going to do is firstly call the hotel to find out what happened and then to discuss this with my manager to find a solution, which sadly will not be as good as if you were still on location in Spain.  Mr X, please give me until tomorrow morning latest to come back to you?

What are the main differences between these scenarios?

Level of listening – in scenario 1, we see selective listening which means we are listening for what we want to hear.  In scenario 2 - empathetic listening, which shows the relevant concern, interest and empathy to the customer.

Empathetic listening gives the customer the understanding that you firstly have heard, secondly that you care and thirdly that you want to solve the issue and that you care about your customers.  Selective listening means you only want to hear the information that you can use to support your own argument and in this case almost blames the customer for not informing Sun Travel whilst still on holiday.

Authority level – In the first scenario the agent is very quick to hand over the problem to the manager and abdicate any responsibility.  In the second scenario we see that the agent is confident, assertive and keen to sort out the situation, and has decided to discuss everything further with his/her manager once all information has been gathered. The situation was not simply escalated to the manager, showing an understanding of how to solve customer problems as well as some authority for the decision.  These two points help to put the customer at ease, giving time to do this thoroughly.

Giving out authority to handle customer complaints confidently and competently is vital to building customer loyalty, giving the customer a feeling that they are in the right hands and will be looked after. To give out authority means training team members on what is expected of them when a customer complains and what is their jurisdiction in terms of financial compensation they can give before having to escalate the decision to the next level.

 

 

Add new comment

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.

Share: