How your small business recovers from a customer service slipup is one of the most important aspects of good customer service. Why? Because one bad customer service experience runs the risk of running your good reputation—even with loyal customers.
Let me share an example. This holiday shopping season, I seem to be encountering an unusually high number of shipping problems with my online shopping. Recently, I realized that one of the online retailers I normally rely on hadn’t shipped an order placed more than a week ago. This made me nervous: In the past, everything I’ve ordered from them has shipped within two days.
Despite years of history with this retailer, and their standout performance all the rest of the time with something like 20 orders a year, I was so annoyed that immediately, their sterling reputation with me was in jeopardy. Here’s what happened next—and what they did (and didn’t) do right.
I contacted the retailer to find out what was going on.
Wrong: Their customer service contact information was difficult to find. I wanted to talk to—or at least email or chat online with—a live person. For a while, I was panicked that this was one of those sites where that was impossible.
Right: When I did find the contact info, I was pleased the company offered email, phone and chat customer service. You should always offer the widest possible number of options for people to contact you; not every customer is the same. I picked chat.
I started a chat with the company.
Right: I immediately got a response, as well as a notification that there might be longer than normal wait times due to high volume. I understood; it’s the holidays. Always let customers know what to expect—it eases their stress, and eliminates unnecessary anger in dealing with you.
During the chat I got distracted multitasking and stopped responding to the customer service rep. (That was a goof on my part!)
Right: She politely asked me several times if I was still there, then politely told me she would need to end the chat since I hadn’t responded for 10 minutes.
Mortified, I started a new chat, copying the text of the old chat into the window and apologizing for dropping the ball.
Right: The next customer service rep smoothly picked up where the previous one had left off. Realizing I was a flake, he asked me if I could stay on the chat for three minutes.
Right: He told me there was a problem with my order that was keeping it from shipping. He fixed the problem and sent me a detailed status report of my order with the new delivery time.
Wrong: I should have received notification that my order was “stuck” in the system. What if I hadn’t remembered the order until it was too late to get it in time? Develop systems for your business ensures this type of error doesn’t happen. Depending on the size and nature of your business, you can set up automated systems, or use simple manual systems like a checklist employees must go over before shipping an order.
Right: To make up for the delay, the customer service rep gave me next-day shipping for free. I was already pretty happy that the problem was solved, but this “something extra” made me fall in love with the company all over again. Always recognize when you have caused a customer to feel stressed, and take steps to not only fix it, but make up for it.
How do you handle customer service slipups in your business?