As “customer service” goes, I can guarantee that you (and YOUR customers too, btw) have multiple stories of Inland Empire businesses or organizations that have massively bungled the encounter.
For instance, anyone who calls the IRS directly — instead of having someone like us handle it through the Practitioner Priority Line — can attest to how difficult it can be to do a good job. Especially when something as complicated as the tax code is in the mix. More about that shortly.
This is something we work hard on here at Team Garrett & Associates, CPA, and here in the midst of our busy season preparing tax returns, I do hope you’ve experienced GOOD encounters with myself and my team.
(If so, we sure would love to hear about it, and a review on the various online services would certainly be a kind gesture — every one of them helps.)
This is the sort of thing that doesn’t show up in the bottom line until it’s too late, unless you track it somehow through the (admittedly imperfect) survey or ratings process. Even that can be a lagging indicator.
So in addition to helping you to pay close attention to YOUR bottom line, I’d like to help you stay ahead of this particular curve. Here’s how.
Four Key Steps For Effective Customer Care By Ursula Garrett
“Humility is attentive patience.” -Simone Weil
In April of 2017, NPR conducted a survey which produced some eye-opening stats on Americans’ beliefs about the tax code. Among those stats: nine out of 10 Americans, across party lines, believe the tax code is too confusing.
Let that sink in … 90%.
But rest assured, that is why we are here — to help Inland Empire individuals like you who have any type of question regarding your personal or business taxes. As you can imagine, we’ve heard every kind of question (about which, let me say, there are no dumb questions when it comes to this stuff), and we have all the answers to help guide you.
With that said, we’ve also experienced every kind of customer interaction … including the frustrated, not-so-thrilled-I’m-dealing-with-this-issue customer interactions.
Although your line of work might be a far stretch from the tax world, we wanted to provide you with a quality “customer-care” tip from the people who deal with one of America’s most confusing topics, and therefore many interesting client interactions.
We touched on an important concept a year or so ago that we think is worth revisiting. It’s an acronym called “HEAR” (for good reason) that centers around active listening. Something easier said than done.
1) Hear the angry customer and don’t interrupt.
No one likes to be interrupted, especially when they’re already frustrated — not to mention that the issue they might be dealing with, pertaining to your business, might just be a surface issue.
They could have had an awful day at work, got a ticket driving home, had a kid throw up on the way to soccer practice … you just don’t know what someone is going through. So let them vent a little, and try not to interrupt.
Interrupting will only make them more frustrated, and listening all the way through (while taking mental notes) will give you an idea of how your business can actually help them reach a solution.
2) Mirror back (Empathize) with something like:
After you do all that work listening (and it is work), it’s important to affirm the customer where they are at, and verbalize your understanding in the matter.
Example 1: “I can understand why you’re upset. I would be upset too.”
Example 2: “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”
This will make your customer feel heard and known, which is what most people need on a day-to-day basis.
3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”
When dealing with a frustrated customer, it’s easy to think to yourself: “Take it easy, pal.”
But we all know that when anything resembling those four words comes out of our mouths (in business or in relationships), nothing good happens.
Instead, answering their frustration with a question like, “What can I do to make this right?” takes steps toward a solution. It also conveys that you heard them and respect their time — they’ve got places to be (their kid just threw up in their car, remember?) and the quicker they benefit from your business, the quicker than can get on with life.
4) Resolve – Seeing the HEAR process through to success.
We are passionate about the customers we serve, because we are passionate about all those “confusing tax code” questions.
The reason your business survives (we hope) is because you’re passionate about your business as well! See every customer question as a challenge to get better. Not only at your craft, but also in regard to empathy.
After years of dealing with customers, we know every interaction makes them better just as much as it does us. The HEAR process, in business and in life, is one worth living. It hinges on patience that leads to mutual satisfaction.
And in the middle of a heated customer conversation, it helps to have a tried-and-true process to cool things down.
Getting things back to a regular temperature is where quality customer care happens.
Feel free to share this post with a Inland Empire business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.
Garrett & Associates, CPA