FIVE R's of great customer service...
Come to think of it, I have always been in the business of customer service. Most of us don't even realize it in our day to day jobs but we all work for the customer.
I never really understood the value of excellence in customer service until I started selling on eBay. eBay has a platform for immediate and personal feedback with almost all the customers leaving a personal comment. This means you are constantly getting judged for the world to see.
In the early years on eBay, I had a difficult time with taking criticism from my customers. I mistakenly thought that the sign of good business owner was to defend their product and services.
I found I would get very defensive and angry with my customer feedback. I would respectfully but defensively take a stand insisting that my product was worthy of positive comments.
Customer: The shoes are so smelly and disgusting I can't wear them. Bad seller.
Response from me: The shoes were cleaned prior to shipment. No odors detected. Buyer never contacted me to resolve this.
From my naive thinking, I was standing behind my product and basically letting people know that they are wrong and I am right. No, I was ultimately wrong.
Over the past 14 years I have learned a system of taking my EGO out of my customer relations. Customers have the right to be understood with their problem and have a quick, actionable repair to the problem. Many times a negative situation can be turned around into a situation where you will have a customer for LIFE.
The first R- Right. In the customer service world, the customer is always right. That is the key. No matter what the situation is, do not get defensive, do not negate the customers experience.
The second R - Respond. It is so important to let your customer know that their feedback was heard. Make sure to reach out via a phone call or email message to let them know that you heard them and are truly sorry that they had a negative experience.
The third R - Repent. Swallow your ego and apologize for the negative experience. You don't have to admit wrong doing other than to say "I'm so sorry that you are unhappy with the condition of the product"
The fourth R - Reflect. Customers want to make sure that you understand the anguish of their situation. "It must be hard when you were expecting to wear these shoes on vacation tomorrow. You must have felt so disappointed to receive a inferior product." Make sure that you reflect an understanding of their specific situation. Put yourself in their shoes and reflect how you would feel.
The fifth R - Repair. Most often, the customer will ask for reparations. Listen or read intently. Often times they just want an apology or they want a few dollars back in exchange for their disappointment. I cannot tell you how many times I have outright asked a company for a small discount on my next order and they end up giving me a full refund. They could save a lot of money if they just listened to the customers suggested repair. If the customer doesn't suggest a solution, offer a couple.
I typically offer a 30% discount off the price or a full refund if they'd like to return the item. The discount can save your company negative feedback and also time with processing a return.
Reformed customer feedback looks like this:
Feedback: These shoes are so smelly and dirty I can't use them. Bad seller
Response: I am so sorry that you are unhappy with your shoes. How frustrating for you. I will contact you with free return options.
Which buyer would you choose to buy from - the first one who negated your experience or the second one who made you feel validated for your experience?