There are several important steps to resolving conflict in customer service, such as actively listening. In fact, most people agree on these important basics:
• Listen/Repeat the concerm
• Solve the problem
• Agree/Thank the customer
I have 4 additional Extra Effort Tips that will push your Resident Conflict Resolution over the top!
1. Take care of it fast! An unhappy situation doesn’t get better. In fact, it festers! And when that happens, what REALLY happened, the facts of the matter, no longer matter. It gets clouded with emotion. When a complaint call comes to my office, sometimes my staff will know I’m busy and offer to take a message. But if I can I take the call THEN! The longer it waits, the bigger it gets!
2. Say you’re sorry… You didn’t say it’s your fault. You said you’re sorry they are in this situation, you’re sorry it has happened, you’re sorry things aren’t meeting their expectations, you’re sorry they are having this problem. And please don’t say you’re sorry they feel that way. People often feel that belittles the actual situation. It wasn’t a feeling to them – it was a legitimate problem.
3. Be quick to send them “up the ladder!” If you can’t help them any further, just say so. Tell them sincerely you have done all you can, and refer them to your supervisor. Or if they ask to speak to someone else, immediately give them the next person in line that they can speak with. Nothing frustrates a customer more than the feeling they are being “cut off” from someone who might be able to help them. Our policy encourages community staff to freely give out the home office number – not to denigrate site staff’s authority – but to support it. I tell our staff, “we don’t pay you extra to get yelled at!” It is difficult to have an unhappy customer vent on you, and then to cheerily greet the next caller. So don’t just let the situation keep simmering – give the unhappy resident another number to call!
4. Follow up one last time to make sure the situation is resolved. I have one looming right now in which I did what I told the resident I would do, and sent her written resolution, but she never received it. And I didn’t follow up one last time. So now she thinks I didn’t do what I said. It would only have taken one more 5-minute phone call to insure she received what I sent her. And it would have given me the opportunity to reinforce our goal of trying to reach the best resolution. All I had to do was set a calendar reminder to check back in a week. Oh well! Next time!
The basic steps to resolve customer service complaints shouldn’t be skipped, but if you want to be exceptional, add these 4 Extra Effort Tips to your conflict resolution and you will improve the results you achieve!
Mary Gwyn, CPM
Making the World a Better Place One Lease at a Time!