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Custom Service for your Customer Service

Posted By: Micah on July 26, 2011 in Customer Service Training - Comments: No Comments »

I hear a lot of commentary and discussion on how to diffuse an angry customer.  Generally, they have some basic principles that should be adhered to in any situation.

  1. Active Listening
    • including restates, investigation questions, and venting time.
  2. Identify Interests
    • these are generally the underlying reasons that the customer is asking for a specific solution.
  3. Present Solutions
    • these should be mutually beneficial options that will realistically satisfy.
  4. Execute/Follow up
    • this means you must actually do what you committed to.

What I feel is missing from most of the commentary is how to apply these principles to an individual situation.

I quote the following study in some of my customer service training material.


Basically the study tells us that there are 3 types of people:

  • Relational
  • Oppositional
  • Utilitarian

It also discusses ways to diagnose the customer and ways to treat them.  Once you understand who you’re talking to, you can apply the principles above in a much more effective manner.

For instance, lets assume your customer is demanding a refund and blaming you for failing to give them what was promised.  This customer is trying to make things personal and maybe even attacking you.  You should first identify them as an oppositional customer (aggressive, grumpy, blaming, demanding).  During the active listening phase you should let them vent and describe their demands.  As part of active listening, you should include questions that begin to understand the interests behind their demands.

“I understand you’re interested in a refund.  I’d like to understand a little more about your situation.  Are you still in need of shoes?…Were you able to find a different service carrier?…What was your original need for this product?”

Once you’ve identified the underlying reasons/interests that back his demand for a refund, we can now present a creative solution that will satisfy his real interests and avoid the unwanted refund.

“I can definitely understand how frustrating it is to open your shoes and not be able to wear them.  Let me know which of these options sound most appealing…”

“I can understand why you’re interested in a different carrier because that important call dropped.  Here are some options we can move forward with to avoid cancellation fees…”

“I understand you still need the product.  Here are some discount options that will help you walk away with what you need…”

While presenting solutions, make sure you get their input and their sign-off before moving forward.  Then ensure you execute.

Similar processes can be followed when dealing with a relational and utilitarian customer. You can find case studies in a free download of my customer service training manual.

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