How can you speed up the process of serving customers when they talk for long periods about unrelated topics ?

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deonebe | In Training Educator

Posted on

Customer Service.   The crucial and demanding role of customer service is often under appreciated and over worked in a business. On one hand, a customer service representative (CSR) can be tasked with reducing customer-handling times while increasing customer-service-quality scores.  On the other, a CSR need to meet and exceed all CSR expectations as well.
 
What follows are key steps to stem rambling and nonproductive conversation that needlessly increases your customer-handling time.
 
1. Set expectations at the beginning of the customer contact by partnering with the customer in a warm, friendly, and interested tone.
  • After greeting and verifying the customer's identity, assure the client that your goal is to quickly and fully resolve their concern.
  • Rambling customers can feel disgruntled, lonely, bored, and/or simply want to feel heard.  
  • Setting time and resolution expectations helps the customer to feel heard as you create a partnership with them to solve their need.
  • You will soon discover if their need is something that you can or can't resolve. Even if the need is loneliness, boredom, etc., continue these steps. 
2. Ask how that you can best resolve their reason for contacting you.  
  • Listen as the customer tells their story.  
  • Interject agreeable fillers such as uhum, oh my, interesting, etc.  This sets a tone of talking, listening, pauses, and reflecting.  
  • Clarify their story as they tell it.  For example, you might interject, wow, that sounds disappointing when xxx happened.  
  • If you don't understand their story after the reflection, they will tell you.
  • As counter intuitive as it may seem, do not rush this process.
  • Reflect as long as needed to fully understand their need.  
  • Do not tell them that you have a lot to get done today.  
  • Instead, make their need your priority.  
  • Do what it takes to resolve their need! 
3. Use empathy not sympathy!
  • As you partner with the customer to understand their need, use empathy to build their trust in you and your understanding of their need.  
  • Empathy is putting yourself in their situation.  
  • Empathy is not telling them that you apologize and feel sorry that the situation occurred.  
  • For example, you could say, it seems as though that was a serious inconvenience for you.  I would feel very annoyed if that happened to me and would want it resolved immediately.
  • For example, avoid saying,  I apologize that such a serious inconvenience happened.  I'm truly sorry.
Note: Empathy works magic as you you reflectively listen during each customer contact.  Simply put, the better that you reflect and use empathy, the better that your customer-handling time will become!
 
4. Fully summarize their need.  
  • Again assure the customer that your goal is to quickly and fully resolve their need.
  • Give them a clear, full, and succinct summary of their need.
  • Ask for their input by saying, do I understand xyz correctly?
  • Do not rush this step either.  
  • Do not ask another co-worker to interrupt the conversation if the customer rambles on.  
  • If you do either of the previous two points, the customer may push back in a myriad of ways. This could include even longer periods of talking about unrelated topics then or down the road.
5. Reset expectations.
  • Once the customer agrees that you understand, set the expectations of what steps that you're going to take to fully and completely resolve their need.
  • Be specific.  If you need to ask your supervisor, let the customer know exactly what you're going to do, including estimating how long that it might take, and/or how often that you'll check back with them to update them on the status of their resolution.
  • If they are feeling lonely and bored, let them know what you can do within your realm to resolve their need. 
  • This is a good time to verify that you have the correct contact information in case the call is disconnected accidentally, or the customer goes to the restrooms during the resolution period.
  • Never put another customer's need before their's is resolved if possible.
6. State what you did to resolve their needs, and confirm with them that their need is fully resolved.  Then, ask if there is anything else that you can do to support them.
  • This step also may feel counter intuitive.  However, by taking this step, you confirm that the customer's needs are resolved so that there don't make repeat calls, visits, have more lengthy conversations, and/or bad mouth the service, etc.
  • The customer should leave the contact wanting to tell their friends and family about receiving the best customer service of their life.

 

mwentworth's profile pic

mwentworth | In Training Educator

Posted on

Customer Service. Frequently this can be the most challenging role within an organization, especially if you are busy and trying to please everyone. Here are a few tips you can use to help with your problem of the chatty customer: 1. Set an appointment if possible. I'm not sure what type of customer service role you are in, but if it's possible it is always helpful to set an appointment. In that way, your customer has a clear understanding of the time for the appointment. 2. Kindly direct them back to the question. If you have a customer who has started discussing something unrelated, try something like this as a response "That is a really interesting topic and I would love to discuss this further with you. However, I have a lot to get done today. As discussed, I will take care of your problem by doing xyz. Is there anything else I can help you with today?" 3. I'd use this as a last resort, but, if you have a customer who is a repeat offender, you can enlist a co-worker to help. You should set a reasonable amount of time to meet with the customer based on your business. After the set amount of time passes your co-worker can politely interrupt your conversation to remind you of another appointment, meeting or phone call. Before employing these techniques, I'd also consider how busy you really are. If a customer is chatting and you don't have anything pressing to take care of, you could always just engage in conversation with them. You'll likely gain a reputation for great customer service in their mind, and you can use them as your advocate!

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