The ABC for Handling a Customer Crisis

A study in America found that the likelihood of doctors being sued was inversely proportional to the way they treated their patients. It found that competent doctors who treated their patients with disdain, got sued more frequently than incompetent doctors that killed their patients. This was provided they were pleasant with the patients and their relatives and said sorry. Saying sorry was particularly significant.

We all believe that customer service is important, so I'm taking it as read that we make every effort to deliver on that in the first place. If not, it might be time to move on to a job where you will fit in better. But all too often we don't have a well thought out way of dealing with the inevitable crises that arise from time to time. So here's my ABC for dealing with them:

  • A - Always say sorry -- don't try and dodge responsibility because you are frightened of the consequences.
  • B - Blame - don't allocate it or even discuss it. If you do, people in your company will focus on protecting themselves rather than solving the problem. There's time for a post mortem after the dust has settled.
  • C - Continue to work on sorting out the problem. In my experience, customers who receive an apology, and who then see you working hard to sort things out will not take things further. After the problem is fixed, look at changing processes or providing training to avoid the same issue in the future -- it's important to learn from mistakes.

Dealing with a crisis is in many ways the easy part. The two ways to avoid crises, treating customers with respect and actually providing great service, are a full time occupation on their own. But being open to hear bad news and having a strategy to deal with it is all part of being prepared.

By Chris Barling, CEO, Sellerdeck. Originally published on www.businesszone.co.uk

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