If you're in any customer service oriented role in your organization, chances are pretty good you hear complaints from time to time. If you handle those the right way, there may be a huge opportunity for growth.
Let's take a look at a customer service opportunity one of my clients had, the concepts that played into that, some tactics you can use for better customer service, and a free resource we have available.
Most industries have to deal with buyer's remorse from time to time. While that's best dealt with up front before the sale, it can still be an issue.
A few years back, one our clients in the HVAC industry noticed a pattern in the customer service phone calls that were escalated to him. Three or four times a week, he would personally have to deal with a customer complaint. The pattern tended to look like this:
- The customer was given a price up front for some repair work and it was under $500.
- They agreed to that price and signed off on it.
- The work was done by one of my client's service technicians.
- The customer told the technician they were satisfied with the work, and they signed off on it.
- The customer talked to a neighbor who told them they'd paid too much.
- The customer called to complain, and the call was escalated to my client.
To give this some context, my client had plenty of jobs that were in the thousands of dollars range, and the complaints represented somewhere around 2% of his customers per week.
My client was usually able to empathize with customer complaints. But in this case, he was having trouble doing so because he would never call to complain about a price he'd agreed to.
My client's big question to me was this: Is this a problem I should even worry about? Is it potentially affecting my revenue?
Tip of the iceberg
As I understand it, there's a rule of thumb in the restaurant industry: You only hear one out of every ten complaints.
If it's anywhere close to the same in the HVAC industry, that's easy math. If my client heard complaints on 2% of his company's service calls, there's a chance it was actually affecting around 20% of his customers.
That's a significant percentage and can really impact the bottom line!
As I talked with my client, I was able to help him understand that it was likely a much bigger problem than it appeared to be. There were probably additional complaints he wasn't even aware of.
There was an opportunity to investigate and go a little bit deeper to find the disconnect.
Investigating the issue
So when you see a pattern like that in your organization, what can you do? How do you look into it and fix the issue?
To start with, here are some questions I suggested my client ask:
- How many customer complaint calls come in that don't get elevated?
- Is it more one department than another?
- Does it happen more often when the call is routed through one person than others?
- Does it happen more with one specific technician than another?
Of course, you can only answer those questions if you have tracking in place. Without tracking, it's going to be a challenge to narrow down the issue.
Once you've narrowed it down, remember that it's never the specific situation but rather how your team is handling it. When they get a complaint, are they handling it the right way? Are you?
How a company handles a complaint is a great way to see what they're really made of. Often, people that complain can end up being lifelong customers if you handle it the right way.
To be clear, it's not about giving them something for free or giving them a discount. It's the how, not the what.
Ways to improve your customer service
When we work with the customer service team at companies, we often find they are an untapped sales resource. Fortunately, there are a number of tactics and concepts that, if understood, can help.
Here are just a few of those customer service tactics and concepts:
- Make your customers more comfortable doing business with you
- Make an emotional connection with your customers
- Ask questions about unexpected orders
- Make it about them
- It's the how, not the what
- The "magic wand" technique
We also have several tools to help with your customer service. First up is a video about what to do when you're "under attack."
Next, Customer Service the Sandler Way is a book with guidelines you can use to start generating more top-line revenue through your customer service team.
You can read more and download a free sample chapter here:
Finally, we frequently help companies with their customer service. If your team needs customer service help, we'd be happy to talk and see if we might be a good fit.