Getting Your Worst Customers to Love You: True Tales from the Front Lines of Customer Support


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Most customer support teams are good at handling routine transactions. But what about a customer who is threatening to sue you? Or asks to have you fired? Or an employee who got so fed up with IT support that he smashed his laptop and then ran over it?

All of these are real situations that support professionals reported in a recent survey sponsored by and Parature. This interactive webinar, teaming communications skills expert and bestselling author Rich Gallagher with Parature's VP of Marketing Gary McNeil, looks at how to handle situations like these and more. The open panel discussion format will examine the best practices, tools and technology behind handling your worst-case scenarios.

Your "worst" customers can sometimes become your best supporters, *if* you and your team know how to handle those critical, moment-of-truth situations faced by every customer support operation. Join us for a wide ranging, high-content discussion that will give you and your team confidence in handling any customer situation.

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  • This is similar to the “shame attacking exercise” therapists often practice.
  • Getting Your Worst Customers to Love You: True Tales from the Front Lines of Customer Support

    1. 1. Getting Your Worst Customers to Love You: True Tales from the Front Lines of Customer SupportGary McNeil, Vice President of Marketing, ParatureRich Gallagher, President, Point of Contact GroupA link to this webinar will be emailed to attendees in 2 – 3 business days<br />
    2. 2. Parature<br />Parature is a global leader in on-demand software (SaaS) for customer service and support<br />Parature enables organizations to:<br />Reduce the cost of supporting their customers<br />Have a 360 view of customer issues<br />Retain their customers<br />Improve customer loyalty<br />Generate more revenue from their base<br />Deliver “great” customer service<br />
    3. 3. The Customer Has Never Been More Important! <br />In light of sales teams selling less - organizations are focused on:<br />Customer retention<br />Customer upsell and cross sell opportunities<br />Lifetime value of a customer<br />Overall revenue from the customer base<br />
    4. 4. Service Has Become A Major Differentiator<br />Improving the customer experience<br />Multi-channel support<br />Providing support in the manner by which the customer wants it<br />Reducing customer effort<br />Delivering on the promise of first contact resolution<br />The result is reduced frustration<br />Increasing customer loyalty<br />By reducing customer effort you increase customer loyalty<br />Increased loyalty is a game changer<br />
    5. 5. The Implications of Getting it Wrong Costing you money now…and later<br />5<br />
    6. 6. Parature: An Integrated Support Suite<br />CUSTOMER TOUCH POINTS<br />SERVICE DESK <br />Delivering Multi-Channel Support<br />For your CSR’s to Manage All Customer Interactions<br />Metrics &Reports<br />Deploy Surveys<br />Feedback<br />Chat<br />Ticket<br />?<br />Forums<br />Your CSR<br />Downloads<br />Mobile <br />Your Customer<br />E-Mail<br />Knowledge-base and FAQ’s<br />360º Customer History<br />Intelligent Workflow<br />Phone<br />Service Desk<br />6<br />
    7. 7. Gaming and Digital Media<br />Business Services<br />Technology<br />Healthcare<br />Associations<br />Education<br />800 Customers Across Industries & Market Segments<br />
    8. 8. Rich Gallagher, Point of Contact Group<br />Gary McNeil, Parature<br />Getting Your Worst Customers to Love You<br />
    9. 9. How this webinar came about<br /> and Parature sponsored an extensive survey of customer contact professionals.<br />One of its questions asked about respondents’ worst customer situations.<br />And did we ever get an earful!<br />Parature’s Gary McNeil and<br />’s Carolyn<br />Healey surveying help desk managers.<br />(Images courtesy Punch Magazine, UK, 1851-1879)<br />
    10. 10. What we will learn today<br />Tips and techniques for handling common “worst-case” customer scenarios.<br />How the right support automation tools can help the rest of your agents act like your best agents in these situations.<br />Open Q&A about your own customer situations with presenters Rich Gallagher and Gary McNeil.<br />
    11. 11. Polling question<br />Do you train your support team on how to handle your own worst case scenarios?<br />Yes<br />No<br />
    12. 12. Scenario 1<br />Your customer is threatening to sue you over problems with your product.<br />
    13. 13. Dealing with the Wronged<br />Reflect and paraphrase their view of the situation.<br />“So you felt this software should have been able to do X, and it cost your organization when you found out it couldn’t.”<br />Take a learning posture and ask good questions.<br />“What have been the biggest issues?”<br />“How are you handling this situation in the meantime?”<br />“What would make things better at this point?”<br />Get your managers involved sooner rather than later.<br />Escalation gives the problem importance.<br />You want to give the customer your best negotiated solution.<br />
    14. 14. Scenario 2<br />A 12-year-old finds your number on-line and asks for help using a (bootlegged) copy of your software.<br />
    15. 15. When people are judgment-challenged<br />Protect the customer's dignity.<br />Use emotionally neutral phrases describing the situation and not the person.<br />“Sometimes people find they are running unlicensed software.”<br />“The good news is that you aren’t in trouble yet.”<br />Refer them to more appropriate resources<br />“This is what you need to do to get support for this.”<br />Know when to set limits.<br />“Here is where you can get a legal, licensed version of this product.”<br />
    16. 16. Scenario 3<br />Your customer talks … and talks … and talks! About his job, his vacation, his bad back, and whatever else crosses his mind.<br />
    17. 17. Taming the chatterbox<br />Use the “acknowledging close”:<br />Break in to the conversation.<br />Enthusiastically acknowledge the last thing that they said.<br />“Wow, that must have been frustrating.”<br />Ask binary (yes/no/short statement) questions.<br />“What is your deadline for this project?”<br />“When did you first start having this problem?”<br />Continue as needed to control the conversation.<br />Done politely and with class, the talkative user will feel you are paying close attention and react well. <br />
    18. 18. Scenario 4<br />A customer is threatening to have you fired if you don’t do what he wants.<br />
    19. 19. When customers threaten you<br />Validate their frustration.<br />“This is obviously a hot button for you. I’d still like to try and find a solution that everyone can live with.”<br />Lean into the threat, not away from it.<br />“You are always welcome to talk to our management any time you wish.”<br />Set boundaries if things get unproductive.<br />“I would like to help you if I can, but you will need to stop threatening me.”<br />Lets them choose whether the transaction will continue.<br />Consider proactive escalation.<br />
    20. 20. Scenario 5<br />A client made a serious mistake with your software and wants you to fly down and fix the damage.(P.S. It’s their fault.)<br />
    21. 21. Dealing with unreasonable demands<br />Instead of just saying “no” – which triggers their fight reflex – give the cost of doing what they want.<br />“I can fly someone to Chicago to help you (or, there are consultants who do this). This is, of course, a customer paid expense.”<br />Redirect the conversation to what is possible.<br />“Of course you don’t want to pay for a visit. So let’s see what we can do to help you for free, right now, on the phone.”<br />Use the transitional phrases “I wish” and “even though” to get back on topic.<br />“I wish I could give you the moon and the stars. Even though we can’t do that, here is what we can do.”<br />
    22. 22. Scenario 6<br />“I am an engineer and shouldn't have to follow your support guidelines, I know more than your support staff, they should follow my instructions, not yours.”<br />
    23. 23. Dealing with “Don’t you know who I am?”<br />Validate the customer’s importance.<br />“Yes, you are a very knowledgeable customer.”<br />This paradoxically makes these customers easier to deal with, not harder.<br />Offer small incentives where appropriate.<br />“Since you are one of our power users, I could make a exception for X.”<br />Resist the temptation to focus on what you can’t do.<br />“I wish I could do that. I agree, it is frustrating. Here are the options we have right now.”<br />
    24. 24. Scenario 7<br />Customers get upset when you mention the terms and conditions that they agreed to, but their terms are still binding.<br />
    25. 25. Navigating the fine print<br />Normalize the customer’s view of the world<br />“Lots of people don’t realize the terms they agree to include a 24-hour response window.”<br />Speak from the voice of a customer advocate<br />Ask about the customer situation: “Do you have a work-around until we can make the service call?” (And if they say no, note their urgency and escalate where possible.)<br />Discuss options: “Here is what we recommend in this situation.”<br />Educate people for next time<br />“If you are in a downtime-critical situation, here are some possible service options for the future.”<br />
    26. 26. Scenario 8<br />How do we deal with customers who resent changes in our terms, such as higher charges or reduced service levels?<br />
    27. 27. Explaining the unpopular policy<br />Focus on their agenda first, not yours<br />“Since cost of service is important to you, let’s look at some other options.”<br />People generally don’t care about your rules or your agenda.<br />Openly acknowledge their frustrations<br />“Since you use these services regularly, I don’t blame you for not wanting your costs to go up. That is really inconvenient.”<br />When you defend policy you raise the heat, when you acknowledge frustrations you lower it.<br />Acknowledge the greater good – but do it last<br />“Given how costs have risen, we chose to adjust our fees to keep these services available for everyone for the future.”<br />
    28. 28. Questions and answers<br />What are your worst customer situations? Ask Rich and Gary!<br />
    29. 29. What we can learn from our worst customers<br />Even the worst situations can be understood and managed with the right techniques.<br />Use your own worst-case scenarios as a training tool for everyone.<br />New “worst” situations become a learning experience.<br />Document how your best agents handle your worst situations, and share this data with everyone.<br />When handled well, your “worst” customers often become your strongest supporters.<br />
    30. 30. Learn more with this free offer!<br />Order Rich Gallagher’s new book on today and get a free customer support library!<br />Includes full, downloadable books on help desk and customer service management<br />E-mail your receipt to<br />
    31. 31. Thank you!<br />To learn more, visit<br />For more information on Rich Gallagher’s communications skills training programs, visit<br /><br />To contact Rich:<br /><br />
    32. 32. Questions?<br />A link to view the recorded webinar will be emailed to all attendees in 2-3 business days.<br />Follow Parature on<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />