106 GGP 0115

GGP January 2015

F I N A L F R A M E Pull the other one When things go wrong for the customer, your attitude and the language you use will make a huge difference in how your service is perceived. Here, Marc Lemezma highlights three simple ideas you can use to bring problems to a more satisfying new year’s resolution. Some time ago the handle on my garage door sheared off in my hand. On the phone with the installer I was told that ‘couldn’t happen’, there must be some ‘other issue’ and that it was probably ‘to do with some widget’ or other. I wonder if you have ever experienced this same kind of dialogue when reporting a problem with anything, be it a door or a smart phone. Even more importantly, have you ever heard yourself or your staff saying something similar? “When something goes wrong and our customer gripes we, being human, can take There will always be some customers who are out to manipulate your service and get freebies or replacements where they would not normally be entitled to them. The overwhelming majority of people calling you for help simply want the delivery sorted, the installation done or the handle fixed. Yet so many organisations seem to treat their customers as if they are always trying to rip them off. Heated discussion Getting a good understanding of the customer’s issue is clearly a good place to start. That clarity can often be lost when we immediately respond with, ‘that can’t be’ or, ‘you should have done that’, or even worse, ‘I expect you pulled the door too hard’. Asking open questions and allowing the customer to explain what has happened is a simple way of getting to the nub of the issue. Yes, this requires an investment of time but can be quicker overall. If you simply tell them, ‘you should have done this’, they tend to get frustrated, partly out of guilt but more often because they may have already told you they did that, albeit in their own language. Which leads on to a second idea to try… Every business has its own jargon, shibboleths and nomenclature. I recall overhearing a heated discussion between someone in accounts receivable and a client. There was a query on an order and the finance manager kept on about what the NOD said. The customer was totally bemused because he had no idea that in this company the internal form for an order was called a NOD. Speak to the customer in language he understands. You cannot assume he knows what you are talking about. If you need to use an acronym, make sure you explain it to him first. Perhaps the biggest change we can make is our attitude to problems. We all take pride in our work. When something goes wrong and our customer gripes we, being human, can take it personally. That often leads to us taking a defensive position. We thus, sometimes even subconsciously, try very hard to prove there is no issue rather than work out what we need to do to resolve it. We do have a simple choice of seeing a customer problem, question or complaint as painful or as a gift. If we realise we can learn from every interaction and work with a positive attitude to resolve the issue, we’ll all have a happier more satisfying and productive new year. www.speechmarc.co.uk 106 www.ggp.com January 2015 it personally”


GGP January 2015
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