Bad customer experiences can hurt your customer service performance ratings. It can actually do much worse than that and even demotivate your best people. It sounds like an awful thing to happen but to be honest, a little criticism can do some good — if you know how to use it properly. In this article I’m going to shed some light on this issue.
Why bad customer experiences can harm your small business
Bad customer experiences show that something during your contact with a customer went wrong. Usually, it’s related to expectations. Either your business doesn’t deliver what the customers expect or you simply can’t find a common language for what they can expect.
No matter the cause of a bad customer experience, it leaves your client with negative feelings about your service and little, if any intention of doing business with you in future. According to the survey conducted by Annabelle Green for Business Reporter:
“35 percent of customers will not use a brand that provides one poor customer experience again.”
That statistic is just one example of how serious customers are about how your service makes them feel. That can tangibly harm your small business. As Anya Louise Caruso of Engage2Connect warns, if handled poorly, bad customer experience events can gain a viral traction online and escalate to become an extremely costly situation for your brand. This will result in a loss of customers and revenue, but will also undermine your reputation for years after the situation took place. Youtube is full of such horror stories:
Bad customer experience can be devastating for brands, following the stats provided by Accenture: the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service equals $1.6 trillion. And that’s only in the US!
This risk should motivate you to do anything you can to prevent it. One of the most common activities during the sales process that leave your customers unhappy about your customer service are the sales calls. Later, we’ll discuss how you can learn from them, but first, let me tell you something about handling such calls.
How to handle bad customer experiences during sales calls
The worst examples of bad customer service usually happen when you least expect them. They happen when you think that everything is going great and suddenly, you’re hit with comments that make you believe the sale you’ve expected won’t happen.
It’s especially common at the opening stages of a sales process, when you and your potential customer have already exchanged some information and he or she seems interested. At that point, you may try to rush to close the deal or schedule a meeting to further discuss the offer details, but then, you hear that much-dreaded “no”.
Listen carefully and interpret wisely
That situation is why you should carefully listen to what your customer is saying and learn to interpret it wisely. Be more sensitive to the words you’re lead is using and to his or her tone of voice. Even if it doesn’t help you to get a “yes” from your potential customer, it will stop you from ruining any chance of getting one in the future. Believe me, that happens if you end a conversation on a negative emotional note.
When you sense that something’s not right, don’t hesitate to ask. They’ll tell you sooner or later anyhow, and if you ask first, they’ll know you care.
Try to understand and apologize
When you genuinely care about your customers’ problems it’s easier for you to find answers that will satisfy them. Try to walk in their shoes and think about exactly what caused the bad customer experience they’ve had with you. Then – apologize to them and try to make up for it in a way they will find convincing. Depending on your authority level and product or service offering, agents can offer customers various perks or discounts appropriate to the cause of the unhappiness.
Sometimes, when you try to put customers first, you can end up apologizing for everything, including things that are completely not your fault. LiveChat has a great article about how to deal with rude customers and remain sane in which Justyna Polaczyk states that you shouldn’t apologize for every little thing. Instead, acknowledge that you’re sorry that your customer feels that way, do your best to solve the difficult situation and then. if nothing helps, just know when to quit.
Use the bad customer experience to your advantage
At first, I wanted to name this part “learn from your mistakes”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that bad customer experience isn’t always necessarily a mistake of yours.
Of course, many times you’re the one to blame, but that still doesn’t exclude the times when your customer was unable to communicate his or her requests with you in a clear way. You shouldn’t blame yourself for that and call it a mistake! However, you should treat it as a lesson and learn to prevent this kind of situation in the future. This skill can really keep your customer service on point.
Here’s how you can learn from a bad customer experience due to a negative sales call.
When you end a sales call with negative emotions on both sides there’s not much you can do. Of course, you can call once again and apologize or write an email, but usually, there’s no chance that you’ll hear back from that customer. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing more you can do with this conversation. You can and you should learn from it.
Clarify and understand the problem
If your customer makes a complaint it’s actually a good thing. I know that sounds shocking. However, when complaining, your customers do say at which point they’ve felt neglected or simply when something happened that was not how they wanted the call to go. Clarifying the core of the problem is crucial to the process of learning as well as improving your offer and service
On the other hand, you have to know how to distinguish feedback that can truly help you from the talk that is just purely expressing anger or “letting off steam”. As Emma Brudner pointed out in her article on Hubspot some people are simply rude. You can’t really learn anything else from their rudeness, so sometimes it’s worth it to learn to keep a bit of emotional distance while reading the complaints.
Reflect and improve
Think about what you could do differently. When it comes to sales calls, a lot can be said out of emotions. Anger or disappointment with customer service are both strong reactions that can make you and your customer lose your temper.
If you want to truly evaluate and improve your sales conversation quality, you could benefit from tools like CrazyCall, which lets you record all calls and listen to them at a later stage. Being able to listen to your own and your team’s calls once strong emotions have passed is an excellent ground for spotting mistakes and improving on them.
What especially may need an evaluation is how you’ve handled the actual problem. The way you spoke, the tone of your voice and the words you chose were of great significance during the conversation. Those seemingly little things can often provoke your customer to get even more furious with your customer service.
Incorporate bad customer experiences into your training program
When you’ve noted what exactly went wrong and how it can be changed, it would be a shame to keep such knowledge on the shelf. Always share your findings, because your team could really benefit from such lessons and each other’s experiences.
Upon evaluating a series of sales calls that ended with bad customer experience, it’s likely that you’ll start seeing some patterns. These are especially worth pointing out, so your team can come up with a clear, well-thought-out strategy on how to face them.
Objections during sales calls are common. Your potential customers may not really trust you yet or don’t know you enough to want to do business with you. Simply speaking, they need to be convinced that you have what they need.
Incorporating the insights gained from evaluating your calls into your training program helps you and your team. Using your team’s calls also helps them to “own” the problem. These aren’t made up scenarios, but situations directly from their daily work as a team. A problem shared is a problem solved, so if you also discuss issues in a group, you’ll certainly find a wealth of suitable solutions.
Try to keep in mind that a bad customer experience isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Treat those situations more like the opportunities to learn, reflect and improve future performance. You’ll see that, as time passes and you gain more knowledge and skills, the number of those mistakes will decrease.
It’s hard to start the process of thinking how bad customer experiences can be good for your team, but with practice and persistence your service and the way you offer it will eventually become top-notch. Good luck!