Customer Service Excellence: How to Handle Customer Problems and Complaints Part 2

The top performers in the customer service industry use a system or process to guide their problem-solving skills. When confronted with customer problems or complaints, consider the five step problem-solving process as described here. The payoff is that you have a better opportunity to keep customers happy and loyal.The Problem Solving Process

Identify the Facts (Determine the specifics of the situation. Hard Data: numbers, dates, stats or time frames. Soft Data: feelings, opinions, personalities, or behaviors.)

Problem Statement (Clearly and specifically identify the problem.)

Possible Solutions (Identify 3 alternative solutions and the possible outcomes)

Recommended Solution (Decide on a course of action, you may need to use or try the other solutions later.)

Action Steps (Specifically create a plan and a timeline to implement the solution.)

For example, consider this scenario:A company hastily began to sell an in-demand new product. After a couple of months of sales, results were poor. Many felt that not enough time was given for the product to catch on and that more promotion would do the trick and increase sales. The Customer Relationship Manager at the organization used the problem-solving process to deal with the issue and craft a solution. She began gathering facts by listening to customer complaints, visiting with the business partners in the field, and talking to her customer service reps. She learned that by quickly rolling out the product, customer service reps and business partners lacked knowledge to adequately demonstrate the product and to answer customer questions. The problem was the lack of product knowledge at the sales rep. and field level not a marketing or advertising issue. She presented her findings to the Vice President of Sales and Marketing using the format above. Reps were divided into three groups to receive three training sessions over the next month. The training focused on product knowledge and handling objections. The business partners were trained through Webinars to learn the features and benefits of the product, too. Field reps then made on-site visits with customers to further answer questions and to help with demos. Results improved dramatically.When dealing with customers this problem-solving process can be done in an involved situation like the one just described. Or, it may be done in a few minutes on the phone or in person one on one. One client has a service call center devoted to these brief problem-solving sessions. Guests or hotel staff call the service center team with questions or problems related to the guest’s accommodations and their hotel experience. Calls usually last from a few minutes, depending on the issue. The success of the customer service rep depends on his or her problem-solving skills.

Another client that services thousands of businesses in the US and Canada, sends customer service reps to customers to deliver products on a weekly basis, offer other products and deal with any issues. The customer reps are empowered to serve the customer and problem-solve how to help them on the spot on a daily basis. If he or she can’t solve the problem then a manager is consulted.An effective problem-solving process and the skills to support it are crucial in delivering excellent customer service. To help you collaborate with customers or co-workers to solve any issue, you must learn to communicate positively as well.