12 March 2015 | 23 Comments
I recently had an interaction that has completely changed the way I approach customer service.
A customer contacted me about a premium product of ours that he had purchased and opened to find that it wasn’t quite what he envisioned. He paid high price for something that was different than his expectations, and he expressed that disappointment to me.
I took a few minutes to respond because I wanted to make sure I expressed myself well. There were a lot of things I wanted to say–I wanted to explain that the product he got was actually better than he thought because of X, Y, and Z. I wanted to say that we could refund him if he sent it back. A part of me wanted to say something like, “Thanks for your feedback” and move on.
I’ve done all of those things. In the right circumstances, I will do them in the future. I’ve also written specifically about this topic not that long ago, especially the idea that your job in customer service is to “lose every fight.”
Instead, I wrote this response: “How can I make this experience better for you?”
I love what this question says. It shows that I understand that the experience up until this point has been subpar. It shows that I’m focused on finding a solution. It puts the power in the hands of the customer.
In fact, it’s all about the customer. Not just the general concept of any customer, but this customer, this person. I’m saying, “How can I serve you? What’s right for you?”
Also, I think it’s important that I didn’t say all that other stuff. I didn’t try to deflect the question or make the issue seem like less of a big deal. I didn’t make excuses. I didn’t dismiss the customer.
Rather, I acknowledged that buying something is more than a transaction, more than a product. It’s an experience. The experience starts when the customer first hears about the product and it continues all the way through the customer opens the box for the first time or plays the game for the first (or tenth!) time.
This isn’t a question I will ask lightly. It’s not going to be something I toss out on Kickstarter every time someone expresses disappointment or confusion. When I get emails about broken or missing components, I’ll continue to refer people to our replacement parts form–some problems already have a solution, and I don’t need to ask the customer to think of one.
But for those messages when a customer’s expectations haven’t been met, I now feel like I know exactly what to say. I’ll ask them with all sincerity how I can make their experience better. I can attest to what happened next with the customer that it was exactly the thing he needed to hear.
What do you think? I’m sure there are variations on this question, and maybe there’s an even better way to say it. I’d love to hear your input.