Holy Feel, Felt, Found. Batman!
When I was young and first introduced into the customer service world, I was taught that the best way to deal with an angry or difficult customer is to simply respond with the feel, felt, found method. If you’ve never heard of this method I will explain it here.
This is how it goes: the customer calls in and has a major issue with a limo. Maybe the limo air conditioning didn’t work. The customer complains on and on about the AC not working. I respond Gee, Mrs. Jones. I’m sorry that you feel this way. I have heard of other customers who have dealt with this with other companies and they felt the same way. But what we’ve found is that usually we can always make it up to you. This De-escalates the customer.
If it doesn’t work the first time, simply repeat it a different way. After a few rinse and repeat cycles, the customer usually calms down.
It opens the door for future business. It lets the customers know that you understand how they’re feeling. It allows you to reaffirm their feelings by saying that others have felt the same way. And then it opens the door for you to suggest an alternative method of correction. You can offer up a great solution. The solution can be in your best interests and the customers best interest.
But where do we draw the line as business owners? When do the needs of the customer simply become too much for us to manage your potential negative are you?
I had an old boss that use to tell me it’s OK to fire customer.
The problem in our industry is simply that as the years go by we become very calloused to our customers needs. We start to classify our customers as whiners or winners. I got a whiner on line 2.
Unfortunately when I hear my managers on the phones with their clients, I recognize that they can often be very calloused too. This really doesn’t help our business though. I believe we need to maintain a level of integrity by maintaining and holding true to the positive results of handling the customer correctly. You owe it to yourself and your company to give every customer the benefit of the doubt.
I believe it’s OK to bring up your biggest fear when discussing something negative with a customer. I might even say something like my biggest fear is that you go out and tell other people that I wasn’t able to make you happy. I want you to know for the record that I certainly have your best interest at heart. And… I hope that I can find a solution to your needs and find a way that you leave here happy.
However, I’m willing to take the risk that I might not be able to please you but may it go down today in your record and in mine that I tried everything I could.
Maybe this is no solution for guys on the street battling it out in business. However, these are things I’ve held true to and had great success with. I have found that if I attack a problem head-on people are usually grateful.