There is an old customer service saying that has to do with whenever someone disagrees with a customer:
You’re not trying to win an argument. You’re trying to win a customer.
You really can’t win an argument with a customer. It’s not that the customer is always right. They aren’t. If you’ve followed my work, you know that I believe the customer is not always right. So, how can you let them always win an argument? First, don’t get in the argument to begin with. Sure, you can win the argument, but you lose the customer. But, what you can always do is be respectful. You can let the customer keep their dignity. You can agree to disagree. You can work toward a mutually agreed upon solution. In short, you win the customer, not the argument.
This concept became even more evident to me as I sat in on a meeting with one of the top automotive manufacturers in the world, Lexus. They are known for great cars and incredible service. At one of their corporate meetings they had a roleplay exercise where some of their employees pretended to be unhappy customers and others pretended to be employees at a dealership. It was fascinating to watch great training come to life, as the employees representing the dealership managed the customer’s complaints with skill and tact.
One very clear message came out of the exercise. They were not just trying to just fix the car. They also wanted to fix the customer. They wanted to move the customer from unhappy to happy. From angry or disappointed to pleased. From frustrated to fulfilled.
At Lexus, they recognized that a broken car can also mean a broken customer. The challenge is to fix both.
Sometimes a customer is legitimately upset. For example, they may have brought their car in more than once to have the car serviced for the same problem. So, what will make them happy? Maybe the customer wants a refund for the repairs or a credit for a future repair. Or, maybe the customer doesn’t want any financial compensation. They just want their car fixed and taken care of by a service rep who truly cares, shows empathy (that one’s important) and apologizes for the inconvenience.
You don’t have to be in the car business to take advantage and learn from Lexus. Learn what will make the customer happy. It may be as simple as just asking. (You don’t know if you don’t ask.) It’s definitely not arguing with the customer. Find out what’s behind any frustration, disappointment, and even anger. Talking it through with the customer, rather than pointing blame or making excuses may be the simple solution. Yes, you may be in a situation that is more complicated than a car repair. Yet, however simple or difficult the situation is, don’t argue. You might win the argument, but you may lose the customer in the process. Look for the solution that is reasonable and is a win/win for both you and your customer.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright © MMXVI, Shep Hyken)