The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 13, 2019 • Issue 19:05:01
Guiding merchants through upsets
Occasionally, when you answer a support call, the merchant on the line is experiencing something akin to a mild panic attack. It could be a restaurateur during a lunch rush whose system has gone down or a fast food retailer at a sporting event whose mobile POS devices have suddenly frozen.
Naturally, during such times of acute stress, the most beneficial thing you can do is solve the problem swiftly. But the manner in which you address the issues can have tremendous impact on how quickly issues become resolved.
Words to the wise
To help ensure you can respond most successfully to merchants under stress, here are several do's and don'ts to keep in mind.
- Get yourself and your team trained: First, nothing can replace training, both on how to interact with customers and on the specifics of the products and services you offer. Expert trainers with industry experience can fill you in on customer service basics, as well as address issues specific to your company and the merchant verticals you serve.
- Put the merchant at ease: Along with confidence that comes from sufficient training, you and your reps should convey empathy for the merchant's plight. Merchants usually have a valid reason for reaching out. A sincere apology can ease a merchant's upset significantly. And let the merchant know you are committed to resolving the problem.
- Listen well: Don't assume you understand a problem before the merchant has fully described it. Ask questions to help you grasp what happened, its cause and the merchant’s understanding of the underlying technology. Give the merchant your full attention.
- Act/don't react: Don't let the merchant's panic rub off on you. In selling situations, it makes sense to match the prospects emotional level because it can help establish rapport. This is not typically the case with a customer service call. You need to remain relaxed and calm to help diffuse the merchant's upset.
- Keep your knowledge current: Keep abreast of industry-wide advancements, as well as updates to your company’s products and services. This will ensure you can provide merchants current information.
- Do your best: Your parents probably told you to do your best when you faced challenges in school. The wisdom those words contain is timeless. Always doing your best leads to more happy endings, as well as to a life that is relatively regret free.
- Don't take attacks personally: Remember, you are not the cause of the merchant's upset. Also, sometimes merchants make untrue statements based on experiences that have nothing to do with you. Even if your company is at fault, you do not deserve to be attacked. If you remember this, you can get through the call without making the situation worse. If you become defensive, you're likely to make the situation worse.
- Take care of yourself: Customer service is a stressful job. Take breaks, stretch, find something to laugh about, appreciate yourself, go for walks, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and remind yourself of what brings you joy. This will help keep your job in perspective.
Handling a certain amount of upset is part of the job. But by being smart about how you interact, you can make problem solving less stressful for merchants and for yourself.
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