Always listen to your customer’s concerns

As an interior plant technician, you never know what question or problem will be thrown your way next. In order to survive, you need to think fast. You need to be able to respond to even the most difficult customer complaints in a way that not only addresses the customer’s problems efficiently, but will also direct them toward reasonable solutions.

Here are a few real-world problems and the best responses to take to keep your customers happy.

Problem: Your customer is very upset because a company error has resulted in additional charges to her account. For some reason she is being billed for a replacement plant that should not have been billed.

What you can say: “I can understand how upset you are that these charges have shown up because of our error. I’d be upset about it too. Here’s what I can do about it…”

Why it works: By restating the customer’s concerns and by acknowledging them, you are showing you have been listening. It shows the customer that you understand and that you are personally interested in getting the problem resolved. The fact that you are willing to immediately act to resolve the situation also demonstrates you are a knowledgeable person who has authority to handle the complaint.

Problem: The customer does not seem satisfied after you have told him your options and ideas for resolving a problem that he has had getting some new plants delivered in time for his open house.

What you can say: “I understand that you’re disappointed and have every right to be. I’m disappointed that we can’t resolve this. What do you suggest we do next?”

Why it works: When you have suggested everything you can think of, ask the customer what the ideal solution would be from his point of view. He might say that all he really wants is an apology. And that you can certainly do. If the customer asks for something sarcastic, such as “your job,” then you know he is still very angry. Your response at this point should be, “If I were in your shoes, maybe I’d want that same thing, but that wouldn’t do either of us any good at getting to the bottom of this. Let’s start over, at the beginning and see what we can come up with together.”

Problem: Although you have worked hard to resolve your customer’s complaint about the Ficus that keeps shedding leaves in the entry area, she accuses you of a variety of hostile attitudes, including, “You really are in a bad mood today aren’t you?”

What you can say: “I’m sorry that you have this impression of me. What can I do to change your perception?”

Why it works: Demonstrating a sincere interest in learning what has upset the customer can give you the information you need to turn her attitude around. If your own defensiveness doesn’t trip you up, you may learn something about yourself. After all, don’t overlook the possibility that your customer could be right.

Being prepared for customers’ complaints is always your best plan of action to ensure that they are satisfied with the level of service you provide. However, for those unexpected problems that inevitably arise, remember to attend to those problems quickly and remain focused on providing solutions that are agreeable to both you and your customers.