Dealing with a customer’s concern.

A reader suggested I post about the best way to approach a customer’s concern. She didn’t tell me much beyond that, so I’m going to interpret what I think is the best way to cover it and go from there.

The reason that any customer calls or emails a customer service department is to get their issue resolved. As such, resolving the customer’s issue should be the number one priority and the number one concern. Other things like response time, etc. are all secondary to resolution time and overall satisfaction with the resolution.

When a customer talks for 10, 15, 35 minutes about their issue, it is often hard to get to the root of the problem. You need to identity as quickly as possible what the main issue is and go from there.

Here are some strategies that I think are effective:

Don’t let the customer talk too long.
You can’t let the customer rant for 25 or 35 minutes. If the customer can’t explain his or her issue within 2-3 minutes, you need to stop them. Otherwise, you won’t get anything out of it and will have to ask questions that they already answered somewhere in their speech. It’s generally necessary to let the customer to rant for a little bit, but not for that long.

Ask questions.
You may need to ask some “stupid questions” like:

  • I am understanding that you are having some issues with getting your computer to turn on today, is that right?
  • It seems like you have a lot of issues. I’m sorry about the inconveniences. I think we should start with getting the computer to turn on properly. Does that sound right to you?
  • Alright. From my experience, it’d be quickest if we started with getting computer turning on problem. Is that okay with you?

Questions that a) confirm what the issue is and b) prioritize the issues accordingly will help organize the experience.

Get updates.
During a long call or interaction, it’s important to get updates as you go along. For example, ask if the computer starting up issue is resolved. If the customer says yes, then move on to the next issue. The customer would rather repeat the various problems a few times and have them all resolved than have all of them only half fixed.

Write down the problems.
As you’re working, write down what the issues are, what steps you took to resolve them, and how they are working. That way, you have a record for yourself about what has been accomplished during the call and so do your supervisors. It also helps organize the call and gives you a good idea about what’s next and how to get there.

The simple question.
The simple question is “Is -issue- resolved to your satisfaction?” It may seem odd and/or awkward to ask that, but it is best to put that on the record so you can move on with a clean slate.