Recently I had the opportunity to field some calls for an organization handling customer service problems relating to water damage insurance claims caused by the devastating floods in Alberta! Believe it or not it has been extremely rewarding. Ultimately, the customer may not like what I have to say but in almost every case, they have said thanks! How cool is that?
Let me tell you a story about my grumpy old man – GOM! He was at least my twenty-seventh customer of the day.
Here’s how that went…
Me: Good morning, Heather here. How can I help you today?
GOM (Grumpy Old Man): Well I’m old and grumpy so let’s start with that.
Me: That’s too bad. I can kind of accept the old part as I believe that growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. I have toe-socks to prove it. That saying is written right on them. And as for grumpy let’s see what we can do about that? I’m not with the government and I am here to help you!
GOM: (He laughs) OK so you got me! Ya – I’m getting up there in age and no I probably haven’t grown up yet. And I guess I’m not really grumpy anymore am I?
ME: No I didn’t think you really wanted to be grumpy. Besides the only Grumpy I know was one of the Seven Dwarfs. So tell me what made you grumpy in the first place. I’m listening.
And it was uphill from there.
This exchange may not work for everyone but it works for me almost 99% of the time. So I have to ask myself why. (One of my favorite words, by the way) I suspect there are a few reasons for that. Firstly, that’s who I am. I’ve never been one to follow a script. I don’t believe in them! Sure they are great tools for training someone to ensure that all the appropriate questions are asked and information obtained. However, once you are “in the groove”, it’s important to adapt to who you are. I also believe that I have that sixth sense and pick up on people’s moods and feelings. Most importantly, I LISTEN. GOM said he was old and grumpy. I acknowledged it immediately and just added some humor to it.
Here are some tips for handling that grumpy customer…
- Listen! God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen twice as much as we talk.
- Take notes. As the client is explaining his situation write it down.
- Clarify. After the client has finished explaining the situation, ask permission to clarify. “May I ask you a question?” or “May I just confirm something with you?” If you were unsure of something repeat it back or rephrase it as necessary so they have an opportunity to explain further.
- Educate. Many times the problem is simply a matter of educating your client. This gets back to what I said earlier. One of my favorite words is “WHY?” In many cases, just knowing why will solve your customer’s problem.
- Offer a solution or solutions. In order to offer a solution, you need to be educated yourself. If you don’t have a solution, admit it! At that point, you can offer to find out or perhaps refer your client to an alternate resource.
- Say THANK YOU. Yes – thank them for complaining! Remember that only 1 in 10 dissatisfied clients complain to you. The rest complain to everyone else about you! That is NOT COOL!
By taking this approach you will find that both you and your Grumpy Old Man will be much happier.
For more awesome Customer Service ideas and concepts why don’t you check out the Customer Service for the Insurance Professional at http://majix.ca/alberta-continuing-education-course-customer-service/ This course has been accredited for continuing education credits in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and would also be eligible for BC Brokers with Level 3 licences.
Have an awesome rest of your day and THANK YOU for taking the time to read “Grumpy Old Man”!
Heather Cournoyer, CCIP, CIB
(Heather Cournoyer is a “retired insurance professional” with over 35 years of experience as a Insurance Broker in Alberta. One of her passions is life is to use her knowledge, experience and intuition to inspire others to live life to the fullest both at work and home! Check her out at http://majix.ca/meet-heather-cournoyer/ )