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How to Handle Customer Escalations in the New Customer-Centered Economy

Customer success software makes it easier to handle customer escalations.

Happy customers are in everyone’s best interests, particularly in today’s customer-centered economy. Because customers are empowered to walk away at a moment’s notice, they have high expectations. They want to be able to communicate with your business through the channels of their choice. They expect you to reply to their communications quickly and resolve escalations in a timely manner. And they want a personalized experience that makes them feel as if your business is built around their needs.

Despite your best efforts to keep your customers happy, though, issues can still arise. When this occurs, you may be left wondering how to handle customer escalations in a way that will not only address the issue but deepen the customer relationship long-term. After all, dissatisfied customers are bad for business—if you don’t resolve their complaints, they can tarnish your company’s reputation on social media or by word-of-mouth. Fortunately, following these best practices will help you turn that unhappy customer into a satisfied one—maybe for life.

How to Handle Customer Escalations

In the customer-centered economy, your goal is to provide a positive, nurturing customer experience both before and after the transaction. So, what is the customer-centered response to an escalation? It’s simple: treat the complaint with as much importance as one that arose before the client signed up for your product or service by following these steps:

  • Stay calm. Remember, even the angriest customers aren’t really angry with you, so never take it personally. Take a deep breath, think before you speak, and let the customer vent if necessary.
  • Listen closely to their problem. If the customer is telling a long story, you can take notes as they speak, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, you may ask, “When did you first notice the charge on your credit card?” Or you can use empathy to reflect the emotion you hear in the customer’s voice by saying things like, “It sounds like you’re really frustrated with the service you’ve received so far. If I was in your position, I’d be frustrated, too.” Once a customer feels heard, they may begin to calm down.
  • Apologize. Sometimes all a customer wants is a good, old-fashioned apology. There are many ways to say it. For instance, “Giving you excellent service is very important to us, and on behalf of the company, I apologize.” Or you might say, “We work hard to deliver excellent products every month, and I’m sorry that we did not meet your expectations.” Simply saying you’re sorry can make a huge difference when dealing with angry customers.
  • Resolve the issue quickly. Your customer has contacted you looking for a solution to their problem, so try to solve it. If you can offer a refund or some other kind of compensation, offer it. If you need more time to research a solution, make sure you follow up when you promised you would. After all, breaking a promise at this stage will only cause greater distrust. Also, keep in mind that you should offer a solution as quickly as possible with the goal of resolving the escalation within 30 days.

By contacting you, the customer gave you the chance to resolve the issue; they could have simply cancelled their subscription or never contacted your company again. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to rectify the situation and put in the effort needed to fix it.

Preventing Escalations with Customer Success Software

Of course, your customer success team should be constantly working to keep customers happy enough that they don’t open escalations to begin with. In order to do so, you need the ability to monitor customer engagement and adoption so you can spot early signs of trouble. Quality customer success software makes it easy to collect this kind of data and set up automated notifications triggered by actions that indicate a customer is dissatisfied.

Once you’ve gathered this information, here are some strategies you can implement to prevent customer escalations:

  • Targeted messaging: Has a customer failed to adopt certain features? This could be a sign of trouble, as they might not realize the full value of your product or service. Try sending a light, friendly message that describes your product’s benefits and how the customer can more thoroughly use it.
  • Listen, listen, listen! Pay attention to everything a customer says, especially when they initiate contact. Whether it’s a help desk ticket or a message sent through a contact form, each touchpoint is an opportunity to communicate your product or service’s value. If you don’t, another vendor is just a few clicks away.
  • Create an end-to-end experience: Imagine the ideal customer experience and try to bring that vision to life. Establish goals and provide milestones along the customer’s journey. When you succeed in meeting a goal, celebrate. Give customers your focused attention every step of the way, from onboarding to renewal.

Once an escalation is open, customer success software can track the number of escalations opened within the last 30 days and display escalation trends for the past 12 months. Such software can help you resolve escalations within 30 days by reminding customer success agents to work on each task and ensure each one is progressing toward resolution. After an escalation is closed, customer success software can collect feedback and gauge the customer’s health status, which helps increase customer trust.

Learn How to Handle Customer Escalations and Retain Customers for Life

In the end, customer escalations are actually great opportunities to have an open conversation with your customer. If your customer success team is trained on how to handle customer escalations properly, then an escalation can become an opportunity to demonstrate exceptional customer service and deepen the customer relationship.

The new customer-centered economy treats customers as valuable partners. Make customers the focus of everything you do, and they will give your business the long-term patronage you need to compete in this economy.

If you’re having trouble favorably resolving customer escalations, get help from Totango. Our SuccessBLOCS make it easy to resolve escalations by breaking the process down into a series of manageable, trackable tasks. Request a demo to explore Spark and start raising customer retention rates today.

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