21/03/2012 - 10:41

Prepare your staff for difficult scenarios

21/03/2012 - 10:41


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If you had small children growing up in the early noughties you will remember the catch phrase of children’s TV character Bob the Builder.

IF you had small children growing up in the early noughties you will remember the catch phrase of children’s TV character Bob the Builder – ‘Can we fix it?’ – to which his colleagues would enthusiastically respond ‘Yes we can’. You may also remember these three simple words becoming even more famous during Barrack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

So why do so many businesses create barriers by focusing on ‘no we can’t’?

Here are three smart strategies to easily turn a potentially difficult customer into a supporter.

1) Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do 

A business colleague who works as a mortgage consultant for a small community bank often has to inform prospective customers of the bad news that their loan has been declined. But instead of focusing on what they can’t do, she will help them by advising what they can do to help themselves get the loan approved in the future. For example, she may advise them to save some money, which helps them and has the added advantage of increasing business for the bank. In maintaining this practice, she finds job satisfaction and establishes customer loyalty. Loyal customers return.

2) Prepare responses for difficult situations  

Often when an employee is on the receiving end of a difficult query or complaint, they will become defensive, their first response being to justify either the company’s position or their own position. That’s because they have been caught off guard and are unsure what to say and how to deal with the situation. They’ve never been taught and are simply going back to their inherent way of dealing with attack – and that is to defend. 

Prepare a list of difficult situations your employees are likely to encounter. Imagine if you were the customer, and that happened to you – how would you like to have those situations handled?

Focus the responses on firstly apologising for the customer’s experience, then asking a few key questions to determine the facts, perhaps even asking the customer how they would like the situation resolved. Use the customer’s name to convey interest and create statements starting with ‘What we can do for you is ... ’ 

This strategy will work wonders for receptionists, as well as team situations such as an IT help desk, service, sales or accounts departments.
Give your staff the tools for any difficult situation they may encounter and you will improve their confidence, creating a much more professional image for your business. Your staff will feel much happier and loyal so you’ll have happier customers. 

3) Make it easy for your customers to do business with you

You will have plenty of competitors out there who would love to look after your customers when you don’t, and your customers will ultimately vote with their feet if they are not happy. 

Always give your customers the benefit of the doubt. It’s not worth losing a good customer by treating them with suspicion that they want something for nothing. Sure, there may be a small percentage whose only motive will be to try to get something out of you for free, but your loss will be minimal compared to what you will lose by treating a loyal customer as a liar.

Look at the big picture. Don’t waste time, energy or goodwill trying to make a good customer prove their point in a minor situation. You will gain much more by helping them and asking them what you can do to rectify the situation. Like any relationship, when you have looked after them in the tough times, they will spread the word to others about how fantastic you are, resulting in a much more loyal customer base.
Think of how much you spend in marketing and advertising to get these customers in the door; can you afford to lose them?

By making it easy for your customers and focusing on what you can do, you will quickly gain their trust and build better rapport. They will leave your business with a positive impression and will tell others, creating repeat business, word of mouth referrals and raving fans. 

A very smart strategy, don’t you think?


Ava Lucanus is the owner of customer service training business Edge Communication

Contact Ava on 08 9200 2290 | ava@edgecommunication.com.au  www.edgecommunication.com.au


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