6 Steps to Fast Customer Conflict Resolution

by Extreme John on February 16, 2011

When making the decision to become a small business owner there’s a good chance that at some point in your career you’re going to come across a customer or two that might have had an issue with the service that your business provided. Now, knowing that I have a lot of young entrepreneurs and newbie small business owners that read my blog I wanted to post this as a way to get conversation rolling. I would imagine that the more conversation that occurs between veteran business owners and newbie business owners the better off everyone will be, or at least customer service concerns might get handled faster. ;)

It’s safe to say that you’re going to need to have tools that you can use in order to address and resolve those customer concerns in the fastest possible manor. Your business relies on it.

How to Resolve a Customer Complaint Fast

 

6 Step Customer Conflict Resolution Process

1. Respond FAST

No matter what you do make sure that you always have a prompt, lightning fast response. Yes, even if you don’t have a resolution or an answer to the situation you should still make sure that the customer recieves a call that let’s them know that their concern is being worked on. A stewing, raging, waiting customer is NEVER a happy one.

2. Shut Up

It’s so easy in business, especially as a young manager or newbie small business owner to wanna jump right in and start running your mouth. This sounds nice, but it won’t solve the problem, sit back and shut up and remember that the customer is the one that has a problem with your business. Jumping in before you hear your customer out will only frustrate your customer and it can cause you to miss important details.

3. Professional Reply

Assuming that you actively listened (based on step 2 above) it’s now time for you make it very clear to the customer that you understand their problem, 100% of it. Take the time to repeat back to the customer what they said to you and be sure to focus on the key points to ensure that the customer is comfortable with exactly how much you understand their concern.

4. Resolve the issue

Now that you’ve listened to the customer and displayed good active listening skills it’s time for you to get down to solving the problem, this is the big moment. Once the screaming and yelling stops it’s time to focus on the problem and get it resolved, no matter what it takes.  Overdue it.

5. Follow Up

Once the issue has been resolved it’s always a good practice to follow up with the customer to ensure that things are still moving in the right direction.

6. Training

Complete your customer resolution process by taking the time ti train fellow staff members and associates, doing so will help avoid the same issues in the future.

*** Bonus ***

Without even remembering all of the above, just remember that not only is the customer always right, but if you’re the business owner and the customer has conflict, you ARE ALWAYS WRONG.

Parting Shots

It’s important to handle every customer service issues as an experience and learn from it, it gives you a chance to improve your skills as a leader and business owner and helps you to mentor others.

Your Turn

Leave a comment and share a tip that’s been successful to you in resolving customer concerns in the past.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Manuel
Twitter:

Thanks John, having to interact with dissatisfied customers is inevitable as business owners, our response however determines if they will leave us as friends or foes. Thanks.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

So very true Manuel.

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SafariDave

Yes, I agree for the most part.
You falied to mention the over the top scamming customer.
Whats your take on this type of complaint, when you know that they are totally trying to take advantage of your business. I have had this problem recently and in the past. Customer gets service from “abc” company and then calls several weeks later and says you did a horrible job and you did everything wrong. No complaints or concerns were brought up before this. Whats your response to them ? I have a hard time kissing butt at this point when I know they are just trying to get a Freebie. Whats your take on this customer.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

I don’t run my busineses based on the over the top scamming customer or shoplifters, I run my businesses for my active customers. ;) In regards to abusive non-customers there’s no sense digging your profits out for abuse.

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safariDave

Well put EJ.
Kiss ass when needed and part ways with the others.
Yes, a quick approach is always a great idea.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

One of the things that gets customers from hot to blazing fire is when it takes forever to hear back from someone.

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Phil
Twitter:

John,

Nice post and I agree with you 100%. I recently blogged about customer service on my blog and it’s too much to say in here, but it was about crappy service received at a fast food restaurant. One thing that I’d like to stress for business owners is to teach your employees how easy it is to make someone happy. It really is quite simple and even if they are miserable people, they will be less miserable after getting great service, with a smile.

One angry customer with an unresolved conflict affects much more than just that one customer. They can and will tell their friends and family and you could potentially lose quite a bit of business that you may have earned otherwise.
Phil recently posted…Cleaning for HeroesMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

I did a study on customer service once and i taught me that the average pissed off customer will tell 11 people about their experience, when a happy customer will often tell no one up to an average maximum of 1 person. Pretty risque business not taking care of customers.

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Phil
Twitter:

You’re not kidding! Whenever I do work for someone, I kiss butt and smile at the same time. The last thing I want is some customer rubbing my name in the dirt. You can deal with anything for a while and let your great customers make up for a few not so great customers.

In the event that a customer is totally trying to get a freebie, sometimes you just need to stand your ground and do what you can to avoid trouble. If they know they are trying to get a freebie, then I’d think they would be less likely to complain to others since they probably know they are trying to beat the system anyway?
Phil recently posted…Cleaning for HeroesMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

That’s a great way of looking at it Phil, and honestly in every walk of life, small business owner or not you still have to put up with a few tough cookies along the way. Let the good cookies make up for it and enjoy it.

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Sam

Great stuff. This proved very useful to me. I work at a library and dear God some people can be a bit dumb.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

Haha that’s great to hear, glad it helped.

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Ricardo

Thank you for the tips. Sometimes it better to not care at all but in most cases your tips are fine.
Ricardo recently posted…Cars with free insurance for 17 year oldsMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

It’s never better to not care about customer service at all :)

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Dennis Edell
Twitter:

I recently wrote an article that would back itself up top this one nicely…..never be afraid to fire a customer if necessary. ;-)
Dennis Edell recently posted…73 Posts Published – Have I Seen Your Smile On All Of ThemMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

I read that article it would go nicely with that one here, you should spin it and submit it as a guest post and link your initial post from it in your guest post here. :)

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Jason

Hey John,

Your number 2. Shut Up is a tip I wish all businesses would follow. It’s nothing worse than having a problem with a service and their representatives won’t shut up and listen long enough to hear the full details of your issue.

I haven’t had to try and resolve a major customer concern yet, but I will keep these tips in mind when I do. Thanks for sharing.
Jason recently posted…What You Must Know About Making Beats Online – You’re Wasting Your Time If You Don’t Know These TipsMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

So true Jason. One of the new techniques for customer service reps is to be nasty right from go, not sure how that’s working out for them but I can’t imagine great.

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The Constant Complainer
Twitter:

You may not satisfy every single customer. But I’ve taught customer service classes in the past and everything you mentioned is important. The key is consistency, professionalism and follow-up. Like I said, you may not please them all, but you’ll set the tone for responding and attempting to resolve them – that’s a lot more than most. Great topic!
The Constant Complainer recently posted…Health CodeMy Profile

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Alex

Hello John,

Although I am not an entrepreneur yet, I am a customer and I usually do business with your entrepreneurs which run a one man business or have 4 employees the most. And the bad part about it is that customer support is usually online only between a certain time period (which is usually not identical with my timezone), and I must say that I am really frustrated when I have an urgent question and there is no one at the end of my emails.

So #1 Respond Fast is definitely one of the most important thing you could do when dealing with angry customers.

Now after the first contact you should assure your client that his problems are your top priority and will be resolved ASAP and never tell them something like it will be okay tomorrow or the next day after tomorrow, just tell them that you are working on it and it will be okay as soon as possible.
Alex recently posted…Ben 10 Curse cu KartMy Profile

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Extreme John
Twitter:

Hi Alex and thank you for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment I appreciate it. It’s all about the fast response and at least finding out what the initial problem is.

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Shaleen Shah

Haha…I started laughing when I read item #2: Shut Up! Right, like there are plenty of social media disasters out there which could have been prevented if someone just took the time off the keyboard. What I hate most is those canned messages like you calling a 1-800 number only to be given a scripted response that makes the person sound like an IVR. I think that the worse thing any business can do is to ignore someone’s post/complaint online as these things don’t simply go away and people may even encounter bad reviews when they Google your name.
Shaleen Shah recently posted…Corporate Branding- Keeping It Simple Makes SenseMy Profile

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Geno Prussakov

Also, if/when there is something to apologize for, remember Chris Brogan’s 3 A’s: Admit, Apologize, Act.
Geno Prussakov recently posted…Official WordPress Plugin by AvantLink- Announcement &amp How-ToMy Profile

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Val Adams
Twitter:

That’s the life of a businessman. Whether we like or not, the customer is always right. We just refer to step #2, we shut up.. huhu.
Val Adams recently posted…F450 Ford 6.4L 2008 ModelMy Profile

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Ethan

What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & assist other customers like its helped me. Good job.

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Nesengani Vhahangweel

Can you please help how to answer this interview question:

1.Tell me about a scenario where you have a problem with a customer,How did you solve the problem and what was the problem and how did you solve it?
2.Tell me about a scene where you had a conflict with co-workers what was the problem I how did you solve the problem?

Can you please answer them for me I have been in an interview 5 times same questions but I don’t know how to answer them as I dont deal with customers please !!!!!

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