Let's set the scene. Your employee is on the phone with a customer whose demands are outrageous and frustration is rising. Its evident that lines are being crossed and the conversation is 30 seconds away from the customer hanging up with ambitions of spreading the word about the anger they feel toward your company. Its too early to tell what the ripple effect will cause but the social influence of the customer is unsettling. The employee sits back and takes a breath.
Like it or not, scenes like this can happen. Are your employees empowered to handle the situation in a way that will leave the customer feeling positive and optimistic? If an employee has to make a decision, are you prepared to back them up? Here are some tips to help make sure your customers service team is fully empowered.
Remove the red tape
Give your employees the authority to go the extra mile for the customer. Instead of setting up constraints, protocol and scripts, give them the leeway to find a creative solution. Your employees should know that they can upgrade a customer to the premium service, wave a fee, or extend a limit. There is nothing worse for a customer to hear than "please hold while I check with my manager".
Align Your Customer Service Horizontally and Vertically
Team members who don't deal with customers direct, should be support staff for the team members who do. When a customer has an issue, the customer facing employee should no be able to interact with the appropriate supervisor, without hierarchical restraints. Imagine being on the front line and seeing the solution to a customer problem, but being unable to implement the solution due to lack of alignment. Instead, provide support that enables the front line team to deliver the solutions your customers need.
Fall on your sword publicly
When you mess up with a customer -- and mistakes do happen -- use the mistake as a teachable moment. Invite your customer service team to observe while you call the customer and admit fault, and see how you approach the resolution. By openly sharing this dialog with your employees, you're setting an example for what they should do, if they happen to a mistake.
Teach them why
An educated employee is an empowered employee. In situations where you do have a hard and fast rule that your employees have to abide by, explain why. Teach them so they can educate the customer. If the customer understands a certain policy, they will be more understanding. Your employee should never be in a position where they have to say "because that is our policy" or "that is our rule". Instead, they should have the knowledge to say "this is our policy and this is why". Its a win for your employee and for the customer.
Sean Devlin is the cofounder and director of product development for Front Rush (frontrush.com). Front Rush provides web-based and mobile applications to over 3000+ college teams nationwide to help manage their recruits, roster, alumni relations and athletic compliance.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.