In an ideal world, customers would be understanding during a crisis. In an ideal world, there wouldn’t even be a crisis. Unfortunately things are far from perfect at the moment, and the current COVID-19 pandemic is causing stress levels to skyrocket.
And, as any customer services worker will tell you, stress can turn even the most easygoing person into a difficult customer. Here are some tips for maintaining a high level of customer care, even during a global crisis.
In the age of technology, a sharp increase in the volume of messages is no reason not to reply fast enough. The longer you leave it, the more annoyed the customer will be. It’s bad for your reputation as a business that people want to work with.
But we get it, that’s not always feasible…
Use customer service technology
If you don’t have the resource to respond to everyone’s satisfaction, an auto-response at least acknowledges that you’ve seen the message.
This can be used as an opportunity to explain why there will be a delay, signpost users to frequently asked questions, and give them a timeframe during which they can expect a more detailed reply.
These can be set up for emails, across most social media platforms, and can even be used on Live Chat. In fact, some businesses rely on customer service AI to support customers at busy times. Read more>
Acknowledge when there’s a problem
Nothing makes people get high-pitched and loud quite like not being listened to. Active listening demonstrates that not only are you sitting there, hearing, but that you actually understand what the customer is upset about.
And, where appropriate, sympathise. Even if you disagree with their points, acknowledging that someone else feels dissatisfied can speed up the process of communication. The aim here is to get to a point where they’re explaining why they’re fed up, rather than shouting about the fact that they are.
Be as transparent as possible
If you’re struggling to keep up with the demand of more customers, deliveries, or you’re having to limit opening hours, tell your customers.
Use your social media channels, and any other platforms available to you, particularly before they make a purchase or send money. Just let your users how service is being affected, why, and what they can expect from you.
Being transparent also means dealing with problems out in the open, if that’s what your customer wants.
Hustling someone away to a side room or a private chat won’t stop them telling everyone else what the problem was – it just means that other customers won’t see what you did to deal with it. Take care to protect personal data at all times, though!
Know when to put your foot down
Dealing with a range of customers does need a fair amount of tolerance, but that doesn’t mean you should accept abuse or threatening behaviour. If everyone can keep calm, then you can come to a solution.
Personal comments, pure rage and vitriol, or the inability to behave reasonably should all be left out of it. If you’ve tried your best, let customers know that their behaviour is inappropriate, and warn them that you will not deal with them whilst it continues.