You’ve probably heard the old proverb that says, ‘patience is a virtue’. It’s absolutely true.
But patience in customer service is important in your business. Why? Because patience is the most important aspect of great customer service. You want your business to grow – and for that to happen, you need happy customers. No matter how fantastic your product or service is, you still need to manage your customer interface.
Your customers base their opinion of your brand on the last interaction they had with you. If that interaction was negative, that’s what they’ll tell everyone – including their friends on social media. So, everything you do should be geared toward an incredible customer experience.
Legendary Customer Service From Rolls Royce
You might have heard about the amazing customer service Rolls Royce extends to its clients. In fact, they do it so well that it’s turned the brand into something almost mythological. Here’s a true story:
In 1932, famed author Rudyard Kipling’s Rolls Royce experienced technical problems while he was vacationing in France. (By the way, Rolls Royce never uses the word ‘breakdown’ – instead, they say a vehicle ‘failed to proceed’!)
Kipling, author of the classic Jungle Book, asked his hotel manager to contact Rolls Royce for assistance, which he did. The next morning, Kipling had still not seen or heard from anyone. He angrily told the hotel manager to call Rolls Royce again. The hotel manager said: “Sir, I did, yesterday. They were here last night, while you were sleeping.”
During the night, Rolls Royce had sent technicians from London, who had quietly repaired Kipling’s car while he slept. They left just as quietly, and there was no bill to be paid.
Service excellence? You bet. And in the same way, you can use service excellence to attract more customers.
The Customer Isn’t Always Right
Of course, you’re probably not in the same position as the Rolls Royce company. And the truth is that customers can sometimes be impatient, rude, unpleasant, and just downright wrong. Through no fault of your own, mistakes can happen, and customers can react badly.
Like most business owners, you probably want your business to run as smoothly as possible. When customer-related problems occur – and they will – it makes sense to fix them quickly and comprehensively. If you don’t, your brand’s reputation might suffer serious damage. Knowing that, it makes sense for you to have a strategy and plan for dealing with upset or even unreasonable customers.
The first and most important quality you should be displaying is patience in customer service. Try to remember that the customer feels wronged and needs someone to reassure them that the problem will be solved. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to confront or argue with a customer. When an issue is seen as a battle, your brand reputation will almost always be harmed.
Here are some helpful steps you, or your support staff, can use:
10 Ways to Ensure Patience in Customer Service
1. Listen Actively and Be Willing to Hear the Back Story
You might not feel comfortable but encourage an upset customer to tell you more. Ask for details. Take an active interest in the story. Often, a grievance is the result of a series of faults or incidents. By getting the big picture, you can better understand the customer’s point of view. You’re also letting the customer know that you are taking a sincere interest in their problem.
2. Display Empathy
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s situation. Take a moment to actively imagine the customer’s perspective and how it would make you feel. Even if the customer is wrong or unreasonable, try to understand the emotion they’re experiencing. Doing this can make it easier to find a creative solution that will satisfy your client.
3. Accept Arguments or Insults
When someone is angry, they most often lash out. It’s a reaction to the emotion they’re feeling. Exercising patience in customer service means that you should accept this for what it is. Don’t take it personally. And of course, never engage in an argument or try to prove a point. Even if you’re right, you risk turning a customer into an enemy instead of a fan of your business.
4. Say These Things to an Angry or Upset Customer
Where it’s appropriate, you can use phrases like these:
- “I’m really sorry to hear about that.”
- “If I’m understanding you correctly, this is what happened.”
- “I’m going to make it a priority to resolve that for you.”
- “In order to address that immediately, I’d like to suggest…”
- “I’m going to get an answer for you and contact you back directly. Would that be okay?”
Even if you offer a compromise, do it with an open-ended statement:
- “I realize this isn’t the solution you’d prefer, but would you consider allowing me to propose (alternative)?”
5. Things You Should Never Say to a Customer
When you’re working to defuse a tense situation, avoid statements that escalate the feeling of disconnection, like:
- “That’s not our policy.”
- “It’s out of stock / out of my control.”
- “I don’t know when it’ll arrive / get fixed / get replaced etc.”
- “I’ll get my supervisor / controller / manager to contact you.”
6. Phrase Your Actions as Positives
Don’t say things like: “we’ll only get your item in a month”. Rather say: “I’ve placed your item on order; it’s scheduled thirty-day delivery, but I’ll make sure it’s prioritized for you.”
By demonstrating willingness and patience in customer service, you build trust.
7. Always Tell the Truth
If you screwed up, own up. Customers respect honesty, even if it’s bad news. Don’t be evasive or use jargon to cover an error. The moment a customer uncovers a lie (or perceived lie), all trust is broken. Dishonesty or smokescreens can sink a brand – and a company.
8. Always Follow Up
You should always follow up to ensure a problem is truly resolved. Patience in customer service also means you should stay in touch well after an issue is dealt with. By doing so, you’re demonstrating that your brand is truly customer-focused. Reacting to a complaint is just good business practice – but following up is perceived as a personal touch.
10. Empower Your Support Staff
If you have support staff, there are two things you should always do:
- Constantly train and upskill them, emphasizing patience in customer service and the importance of customer empathy, and
- Give them permission to make appropriate judgment calls and to solve issues on the spot if possible.
Better Customer Service with a VA
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you probably don’t want to spend your valuable time responding to customer queries. It makes sense to have someone skilled to assist – and you don’t need to hire an employee, either.
Book a discovery call today and claim your free trial. You’ll see just how effectively a virtual assistant can help keep your customers happy – and add value to your business.