Panic Management in Customer Service Crisis

by | Oct 8, 2017 | Customer Service | 0 comments

“The way you handle a customer service crisis can make or break your company’s reputation,” –

Friction is one of the primordial forces of nature, one that enables locomotion in the animal world and generates heat in all material interactions. Human conversations can also generate friction when business (or personal) expectations clash with material facts and a heated conversation follows. Observers have noted that customer services as a business domain are very much subject to a crisis. This is natural because paying customers have a right to expect a certain service standard or a certain level of performance from a product. Any disruptions in meeting such expectations can create turbulence in the customers’ minds and ignite a rapid response directed at customer care workers. However, businesses need not react in the same coin and therefore, panic management on the part of customer service representatives remains a key factor that ensures the disciplined discharge of professional duties.

Customer service representatives must train intensively in handling irate customers as part of their daily work routines. This assumes importance because the plethora of brands, products, and services available to modern customers often generates outsize expectations. Product or service failure may trigger customer dissatisfaction and frantic telephone calls to business call centre executives. Often, the tone and language used by irate customers can trigger haphazard emotions in the minds of said executives, which highlight the importance of panic management among customer care executives.

One of the primary devices to effect panic management is the retention of a cool and assured frame of mind. Customer service executives must bear in mind that the customer is facing an unusual situation and requires help to negotiate the said crisis. The service executive must act to help the customer and assure said customer of the best services at all times. Certain customers may threaten to pull their custom and to take their dollars to competing businesses. In such situations, the service executive needs to keep panic at bay and systematically interrogate the customer to ascertain the root of the crisis. Verbal assurances can help to calm frayed nerves and then the executive may proceed to resolve the customer’s problem. The above narrative helps to spotlight the importance of panic management in a customer care executive’s workday.

Brands and businesses that operate customer care centres must realise the centrality of training processes for customer care executives. A product or a service is availed by all manner of customers and therefore, said executives must be properly trained in handling any and every customer service situation. The art and science of panic management should figure prominently in these training regimens. In addition, businesses should encourage their executives to converse with customers and to rely on this primary device to defuse a potentially explosive situation. Further, business executives must appreciate that a heated conversation on the telephone can drive customers to rival businesses, thereby defeating the very premise of operating a customer service centre. In light of the above, we must note that businesses must refine their customer service skills on an incremental basis.

Brands and businesses must underline the importance of relating to a customer, and appreciate his or her point of view. This approach to customer service enables executives to empathise with a customer’s situation and summon their skills to resolve customer complaints. Panic is an emotional reaction to a crisis situation and can degrade the efficacy of service levels in a business organization. Therefore, senior managers and experienced team members must hold hands with freshly minted executives in a concerted effort to promote panic management. The convergence of a deep pool of business abilities and customer service acumen can enable a matter-of-fact interaction with clients and customers, thereby excising the negative fallouts that may attend a precipitate exchange of words between a business and its customers.

Role-play in training rooms can work admirably to train customer service executives in the basics of panic management. Businesses must allot time and resources to experiment with such initiatives in the interests of boosting staff confidence. For instance, a certain set of personnel can be designated as impatient customers that must be assuaged and assured by another set of personnel that play the role of service executives. The two sets of people can clash in a mock situation. The reactions and the strategies employed to deal with customers can be assessed for their utility in a real-life situations. Senior management personnel can monitor these exercises and distil the learning for the benefit of attending executives. In addition, this learning must be documented in order to create a body of training materials that can be fed into subsequent training sessions.

In situations where a product or service has failed at multiple levels, customer service personnel should adhere to a pre-determined escalation matrix. This approach enables a business to issue a coherent response to a crisis and contain the fallout and arrest potential damages. These actions are important to avert class action lawsuits filed by seriously disappointed customers. We note that panic management remains one of main planks of the corporate response in such situations. Brands and businesses may choose to combat these situations by employing public relations professionals, while working in the backdrop to curtail the negative fallout.

Traditional business enterprises that operate brick-and-mortar retail establishments can benefit from the application of panic management strategies. For instance, an incident in a shopping or retail establishment can trigger excessive alarm among sales staff and other employees. Senior members of the establishment can take the initiative to roll out an emergency response and ensure the safety of all customers and personnel in the said destination. We must note that a calibrated response often represents the best strategy to deal with an emergency.

The ubiquity of electronic communication and online transactions can create scope for malfeasance that targets customer information. For instance, a careless online shopper may enter his or her banking and financial information on a spoofed website and incur serious financial losses. The panicked customer may respond by calling banking help desks and customer care centres. In such cases, the executives must react with alacrity to shut down access to the customer’s bank accounts and other assets. We must note that this refined and smooth response signals a victory for panic management strategies as applied to customer service paradigms. We must note that the intelligent and timely response of the customer service executives helped to contain the situation and reduced the chances of additional damage. This instance clearly highlights the utility of putting in place panic management mechanisms and frameworks in business establishments.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined a few panic management strategies that enable businesses to deal with crisis, irate customers, and contain negative outcomes from a set of unexpected circumstances. Brands and businesses must work continuously to refine customer service paradigms and practices in the interests of presenting an enduring value proposition to all customers. Therefore, they must train their executives to remove the sources of panic in the workplace and to competently deal with all exigencies as these arise. A smooth and consistent reaction to adverse circumstances can enable businesses to retain customer trust, boost customer confidence, and safeguard the integrity and founding principles of a commercial organization.

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