Well, customers might not be quick to forgive. Preferably the support agent has to earn the forgiveness on behalf of the business.
Usually, customers ring up the support line because they face issues with the respective product or service. So, it is safe to consider that the customer is angry, worried, frustrated, or anxious, or all at once. Their anger is justified as they want the full value for the money they spent. As a brand representative, it is the agent's task to clear the air, calm the customer, and offer a resolution.
It will be arrogant of any business if they perceive themselves to be perfect. Instead, all agents must be trained to deal with angry customers to prevent escalation. More often than not, agents try to defend the brand and end up arguing with the customer. This will only corner the customer, causing them to churn.
Businesses should also proactively prepare agents for escalation by training them on how to apologize to customers, informing them about the do's and don'ts. Such weekly trainings/monthly trainings make your agents battle-ready for most kinds of situations with angry customers.
Following below is a small guide on how to apologize to customers.
The primary step for every customer-based scenario is to listen carefully. Active listening is imperative to comprehend the customer's issue. After the generic introduction, allow the customer to speak to their full content until the problem is apparent.
While the customer explains their situation, remember to prompt in with minimal encouragers like " I understand" or "I agree." This practice is similar for all channels, be it call or live-chat.
Acknowledge their feelings by speaking out their feelings. For example, the agent can say, "I'm sure that must have been hectic for you." When the customer has stopped explaining the issue, repeat the situation back to them to ensure that you haven't missed anything.
Do not immediately insist on fixing the issue. Instead, wait for the customer to accept your apology and then proceed. This ensures that the customer is still in your court.
Acknowledging the customer's problem and taking responsibility will immediately steer the conversation in a positive direction. As a brand representative, you must empathize with the customer and apologize even though it isn't your mistake. Do not read out generic scripts; instead, improvise to personalize the interaction.
Personalization makes the brand seem responsible and dependable. To achieve this, the agent must take charge of the conversation once the complaint is registered. The agent must be equipped with proper CRM or omnichannel platforms to analyze customer journeys during the conversation. Mentioning previous customer purchases and calling them by their name shows that the business pays attention to details. However, these are circumstantial initiatives that must be taken by the agents at the moment. A successful agent will show accountability and succeed in delivering a resolution.
The most unprofessional mistake would be to try justifying the fault, even if it's justifiable. The customer is already affected by the inconvenience. The agent must step up and read the pace of the conversation. A reason must be provided for their problems; however, the agent must do it with complete acceptance of blame, so it doesn't appear to be an excuse.
For example: "It has happened because of 'XYZ,' but it is unfair that you were defaulted by it. I understand your misery and will immediately ask my team to resolve it. "
Sometimes, the business might not be at fault; although, it is no reason to abandon an existing customer. If the customer has still called, that means they want someone to blame and be helped ahead with it. In such scenarios, the agent must not fumble and lead the conversation with empathy.
For example: "It seems like you have had a rough day with our product, but do not worry. I will immediately update my supervisor on this."
The final step is to offer a suitable solution for the customer. The answer might not be immediate or self-applicable. Most probably, the resolution will take some time to be applied. However, the customer is oblivious to it.
The agent must explain in laymen's language how the solution is going to be offered. The agent must not leave the customer, merely saying that the support team will take care of the problem. The customer will be anxious and confused about how long the fix will take and how long it is before the ticket is processed.
Instead, explain and inform the customer about the steps that you will take. It will console the customer and relief them of their anxiety. Inform them about the time it will take to resolve the matter. An informed customer will always feel much in control and is likely to recommend your business to others.
Lastly, thank the customer and acknowledge their time with you. The customer's patience allows you to perform and improve. Be mindful and greet them for their endurance. This demonstrates integrity and brand value. Ending the conversation on a small but positive note will leave a long-lasting impact on the customer.
Many a time customer reaches out to the brand multiple times regarding the same matter. Without an Omnichannel platform, it becomes difficult for agents to know the previous interactions. Under-equipped agents often wonder how to apologize to customers, and with what approach. Struggling agents delay the customer from getting a solution. This may annoy an already irate customer. So providing the right technology to the customer service team can be one step towards creating a more satisfied customer.
Author Bio: Sweta is a passionate technical writer with experience in digital marketing. Outside work, she is a devoted Esports advocate.