Customer Experience News & Trends

7 things to do when an experience is getting bad

Stop! That’s the first thing you want to do when it becomes clear a customer’s experience is turning negative. From there, you can turn it around with one of these seven quick approaches.

You might intend to make all customer experiences positive. But some start on a sour note.

When front-line employees sense, our outright know, a customer interaction is becoming negative, they want to turn things around quickly.

This is how, according to workplace politics expert Kathleen Kelley Reardon, the author of The Secret Handshake.

1. Reframe

Cast the issue at hand in a different light. Describe what’s going on, or what customers have said in a way that makes the future look positive.

For instance, if a customer says, “I am not going to fight with you about this,” you can reframe the situation before it does turn into a fight. Say, “This is fact-finding right now, certainly not a fight. And I know we can put together everything we need to make this work out.”

2. Rephrase

Say the words in a different, less negative way. Accusatory language often starts to fly when conversations heat up. You can cool things down with a positive spin on negative emotions.

For instance, if someone claims you or your company is stubborn, you can say, “We’re passionate about the quality, no matter the situation.” Or if they accuse you of being unfair, you might say “We’re determined to do things right for everyone involved.”

3. Revisit

Use an earlier success to redefine the current situation. Sometimes, when things have gone wrong or are headed in that direction, customers quickly think that everything has always been bad. That’s when it can help to remind them of a past, positive experience.

If they say something like, “It’s always like this …” or “You always …,” you might respond, “We have a great track record of working together. We can get this resolved now like we did last year when …”

4. Restate

Clarify or redirect negative wording. Sometimes people’s tongues get ahead of their brains. Even customer service pros can say things in the heat of a moment they don’t truly mean.

Give customers a chance to rebound if they’ve said something that is out of line. Say, “Surely, there’s another way to say that,” or, “Did you mean what I think I heard?”

And if you say something you didn’t intend, try, “Please let me rephrase that the way I meant for it to be said.”

5. Request

Ask a question when you’re in doubt of customers’ intentions. It’s always better to clarify than assume.

You can check your perception by asking, “Would you clarify for me what you meant just then?”

6. Rebalance

Help adjust the power level in the conversation. You don’t have to give up power or demand too much to get things resolved.

Instead, if things are getting testy, and you want to right the ship, say something such as, “Fortunately, I don’t take offense easily, especially in this unique situation that together we can work out.”

7. Reorganize

Change the priority of the issue at hand. Move the direction of a negative conversation away from personal concerns (and attacks) by focusing more on processes. By doing this, you cut the problem in half, zoning in on just one aspect.

For instance, you might say, “We seem to agree on the problem, but are having some difficulty with how it can be resolved most efficiently. Let’s put our efforts toward that.”

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