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Ankit had a rough conversation with a customer and did not know how to handle customer queries, so he took his outrage to social media, with a vent outpost on Facebook.
When you are making 200 calls per day, you have to handle difficult prospects and every once in a while you come across someone who makes your life hell…
You want to go out there and tell everyone
If you are doing this, don’t! Please stop! Because there is a real human on the other side, who is just doing his job!
– Every customer support representative ever
I understand the feeling but jumping to blame or asking people to never do this is short-sighted.
A mess was created and as a customer support representative, it’s your job to handle the mess. But going out and posting it on Facebook shift the conversation from how can I handle such a situation is better in the future to that guy was an asshole.
Maybe that guy was a genuine asshole or maybe he just had the most terrible experience with someone else and then a little bad experience with you and that just triggered him.
But being a professional means doing your job and developing the ability to handle whatever comes to your plate…
Also, the Facebook post was a huge mistake!
Ankit basically showed how bad his customer handling is.
And I can bet that any self-respecting future customer reading his post will never chose to buy from him.
If you are a customer support representative then at some point in your career you will face a situation like Ankit.
And if you are here reading this post then I am guessing, it is because you want to have a better solution prepared instead of doing what he did.
First and foremost your company is running on this customer’s money (and others like him) so he is damn important. Plus he is an existing customer. That means somebody in the sales team had to do the hard work of building trust and creating a relationship. For turning him from a prospect to a customer.
And right now, stuck in this conversation you have two choices –
- You can vent about how bad this situation is, how the technical team always fucks up, how the sales team always overpromises etc…
- Or you can realize that you have the unique opportunity and take charge of this conversation
The simplest way to build and maintain relationships that you can always count on is by making sure that the customers have the best and most memorable experience with your product/service.
But when there are fuck ups and customers get angry, that’s when does a unique opportunity to solve their problem, showcase great service and turn them into your fans and effectively resellers of your product…
Don’t use this as a strategy! Don’t make customers angry just to win them over afterwards.
But if they are angry for one hour and the reason use that as an opportunity to showcase exceptional service and win them over.
OK, so angry customers are an advantage huh?
How do you actually convert this potential advantage into an actual advantage?
Well, that’s what the rest of this article is about – 7 ways to turn angry customers into loyal fans!
If you do it right…
If you have fans instead of just customers then every time you come up with an offer, you can reach out to them and count the money rolling in or…as Akshay Kumar once said-
How to Handle Customer Queries: 7 ways to turn angry customers into loyal fans
#1 Make the pissed-off customers your top priority
Abhinav from our sales team had promised a deadline for the call-recording feature to a TeleCRM customer. This feature was super important to him. And he had made plans according to the deadline promised.
But due to some unavoidable technical situation, the feature got delayed. Now the customer was pissed. He messaged in the WhatsApp support group asking for a refund… And then he called Abhinav! Abhinav was in a demo session. But this guy just wouldn’t stop calling… After a while Abhinav got afraid and he did not want to take the call. So he avoided the customer. Soon the customer stopped messaging and calling and everything on our end went back to business as usual.
This is exactly how most sales and support executives react to angry pissed-off customers. After all, they’re just gonna vent! Just give them a little bit of time to cool down and then we can have the conversation normally!
In our case, we forgot to have that conversation and three days later received a negative review from that customer!
That’s when we decided to implement this as a ground rule of customer support in TeleCRM!
Yes, they will vent, so what!
After the venting, they will give us a chance to resolve their problem and win them over in the process.
You have to understand one thing – it is equally difficult for them to go to another vendor so when in the right mindset you can use this single principle to turn any angry customer into the most loyal fan ever! And once you do these ‘angry customers’ go out to rave about your fantastic customer support services on social media, giving a nice touch to your company’s value.
#2 Use mistakes (feedback) to your advantage
In the last point, I shared the story of how Abhinav fucked up big time with a client…
The typical way most managers would react to this is
You are useless! Make sure this never happens! OMG we lost a client and now we have a public bad review! This is so messed up!
Yes, it is messed up!
Many things in business are not always perfect from the word go! And anyone expecting that is stupid…
But when you’re operating with the right mindset then every mess or mistake is an opportunity to gather the right feedback and make great corrective changes.
Here are the things we did to use the crisis as a tool for improving the platform:
- We jumped on a feedback call with the client.
- We made the call recording feature a top priority.
- We developed a support system to take super special care of all our pissed-off customers so that no one has to go and post a review…
Because of stories like this, I can say with full conviction that the angriest customers are actually the most precious ones who can help make disruptive improvements to your product, your systems, and your overall brand image.
If you know how to use their feedback correctly instead of constantly engaging in firefighting and treating them as a liability.
#3 Give THEM the benefit of the doubt
Here’s how support teams normally react:
Customer: Bahut zyada technical hai.
TeleCRM Team: Stfu! We have top-notch UX designers who fight endlessly over the tiniest details, just to create simpler user interfaces.
Customer: It’s too costly.
TeleCRM Team: We are giving you the entire CRM with all integrations, updates and hosting at 699/user/mo?
What else do you want for it? My life?
Customer:: We still haven’t got the invoice.
TeleCRM Team: It was sent 4 days ago, immediately after you requested it.
But if we take a step back, we can actually empathize and understand what the customer really means, and then we can solve the problem without too much effort, or any disagreement/friction.
What customers say: bahut zyada technical hai.
What they mean: I don’t think my team will be able to use this.
Solution: Let me share the free trial and how-to videos with your team members and we’ll help ’em out if they face any difficulties.
Say: It’s too costly.
Mean: I don’t think there’s enough value.
Solution: How much money do you lose if just one deal is lost in a month due to miscommunication or missed follow-ups? [Communicating value instead of cost].
Say: We still haven’t got the invoice.
Mean: I am not able to find the email.
Solution: This was actually our mistake, there was a typo in the email we sent out…
The point is yes some customers will be technically challenged, but when they come to you facing an issue or a technical challenge assuming that every customer query you deal with is actually wrong or stupid and trying to waste your time is not a productive way to deal with the situation.
It’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt, understand their perspective and get into a solution mindset!
Also, we all know that normal support reps who just do their job don’t get praise like this on social media.
#4 Set realistic expectations AND always overdeliver.
In the previous 2 examples, we discussed how we failed to deliver a promised feature on time and how it led to a crisis.
What if there was a way to make sure that the problem never occurred in the first place?
What if we have factored in and anticipated the technical delay and made sure that we keep a little extra buffer of time before promising a feature to the client?
90% of customer support disasters can be avoided if the sales and marketing teams are secure and transparent about what they can and can’t do!
Plus, if you do this the customers will get a clear picture of what they can and can’t get. And most customers will be able to make it work.
Sure, there will be a few people for whom a particular unavailable feature will be mission-critical, and they will rightly get the choice to move to a different provider.
But if you over-promise and do not deliver, then that’s breaking trust!
And the thing about trust is that you can only break it once. Also, it reflects negatively on your integrity and that of your company.
Here are a few classic examples of overpromising and underdelivering
- Not having enough employees but still promising 24×7 live chat support instead of emailing us and we will respond to you within 24 hours.
- I’ll follow up with you at 10 AM tomorrow, but since there is no reminder system so main bhul gaya.
- I will ask Abhinav from my team to call you regarding this, followed by again bhul gaya.
The biggest reason is most support executives don’t realize that they can say
- Email us and we will respond to you within 24 hours instead of 24×7 live chat support
- Can YOU plz call me at 10 AM tomorrow? Instead of I’ll follow up with you at 10 AM tomorrow
- And can you please call Abhinav on 95XXXXX instead of I will ask Abhinav from my team to call you!
And here’s the most interesting part – when you promise to email us and we will respond to you within 24 hours but still reply within a few minutes the customers get delighted and feel special!
Special enough to want to stick with your company for life and refer their friends and family! Because of your phenomenal service.
That’s the power of setting realistic expectations AND ALWAYS overdelivering.
#5 Give more than you ask for
Most salespeople are readily available to sell or upsell but when a customer calls them for the support they are too busy all of a sudden. These types of salespeople only care about what THEY need! If you act like a parasite then next time they’ll just go buy from someone else simply stop taking your call. You’ll lose the relationship and any goodwill you have built so far. Instead, if you are genuinely interested in helping them succeed then they will notice that they will understand your true intentions and as a result, they will value the relationship!
Once you have a relationship like that with your customers you can fact that they will be the ones constantly calling you to ask for new features, offers, and upgrades rather than the other way around!
Here is another example of how the parasitic taker mentality operates at a large scale
- Give us a review on the play store
- Like our Facebook page
- Subscribe to our YouTube channel
- Refer your friends
This is what the thank you page (after checkout) or video endings look like for most websites!
The customer just made a purchase but instead of seeing things that he would actually find useful like say-
- How to use the product?
- Where to get an invoice from?
- What is your license key, or how you can get support?
They show the things that THEY need from the customers! Instead of focusing on creating the best possible experience for the end user, most businesses take this me-centric approach.
There’s one big problem with this approach – he just paid you, let him get some value out of the system before going back to him to ask for more!
Heck if you just focus on creating value and a memorable experience then whenever he or someone he knows needs what you are offering he will choose you over everyone else because of that memorable experience.
Because when every other provider was asking for more, you cared about him and how he could get more value out of you…
Giving before you ask and giving more than you ask is the best long-term shortcut in business.
#6 Inform customers in advance of the changes you are about to make
A customer comes to the site to renew his license and notices that the prices have risen. Even though the amount itself is minor he doesn’t go through with the purchase. Instead, he decides to give me a call.
And why did such a busy person as this customer decide to call me and have a dedicated conversation about such a small amount?
It’s not about the size of the amount but the feeling of being betrayed! As an existing customer to him, it’s clear that before any major price changes happen he is given a heads-up so that he can go for a long-term commitment or something like that if he so chooses.
And while we did send the intimation to our, we had missed this particular customer because his number registered in our records was not present on WhatsApp!
No this is just one customer, imagine if all of our customers had an unpleasant experience like this! If we had changed the prices or made significant changes to the platform without giving proper and due intimation to all the people whose businesses and workflows depend on us?
Most people either forget or assume that the amount/change is insignificant so it wouldn’t matter but as I just told you it’s not about the amount.
These are your existing customers who trust you and have certain expectations from you, and when you don’t follow through then they feel that their trust has been betrayed.
All it takes is one simple action and these days you can use tools and services to send updates to all your customers in bulk with just a few clicks!
#7 Take special care of the people they refer
I love RazorpayX, we use it for managing payrolls and vendor payments! A friend of mine runs a hospital and he was finding the payroll management cumbersome so I referred him to RazorpayX. The support team at RazorpayX kept asking for the same documents again and again and tossed him around like a football for one month before I finally jumped in and called their shit service out on Twitter!
After a few tweets, I got a call from a concerned person and the issue was resolved quickly!
This was the second time that I had referred somebody to RazorpayX and the exact same experience had been repeated.
Razorpay has a great product and practically no competitors, but I doubt that that would be the case with you. And when you’re operating in a competitive landscape you don’t have the leverage as Razorpay so it is super important that you take special care of the people who are referred to you by your customers.
Because when your customers refer somebody they are putting their own reputation on the line and if you shit on that opportunity it means you shit on the relationship that you have with the existing customer who referred you. And if that customer goes out and talks about his experience on a blog post like this one then imagine the kind of damage that it can do to your brand image!
Ultimately a business makes money not just out of the revenue that it gets from customers but the relationships that create the ability for the revenues to keep coming.
And the best way to keep that relationship strong is to deliver a top-notch memorable experience through and through for each and every customer. This means never letting it get to a point where an existing customer would be pissed off.
But in case things don’t go wrong and customers end up getting pissed then that can be an opportunity in disguise as we have seen with many examples in this article.
If you are handling you’re pissed off and angry customers as a liability then you are leaving a lot of money and opportunities back on the table!
Which of these 7 techniques of handling customer queries are you going to use, the next time a customer is angry?