Matt Patterson – Front line Customer Service Manager, roomsXML, shares his tips and tricks for managing difficult customers
So you are just off the phone from one of those tough, emotional conversations with a difficult client. As much fun as going through customs in the US. Typically, you hang up and get onto a supplier like us to vent. Or find resolution.
Problems take all shapes and sizes; the correct room type wasn’t provided, the hotel didn’t have their booking in the system or the carpet was the wrong shade of white (it was beige/off white/ivory or cream).
No matter how ridiculous or small, you have to start reviewing each complaint seriously.
If your client gets the impression that you’re not showing empathy or understanding, you’ll lose their trust and in turn lose them as a client.
At a high level there are three golden rules as an issue presents:
1. Listen: not just for the details but the hidden message. What our customers tell us is often as important as what they leave out
2. Narrow the key issue: finding the point of pain makes it easy to identify the resolution
3. Understand: what will it take for this call to end well
As a post script, the speed of resolution can be equally important. If pax just long hauled to Vladivostok and there’s no record of booking, do whatever it takes to get them into a room. Details can be sorted after.
My footy coach once said follow the five P’s: Preparation Prevents P&^% poor Performance.
In other words, let your clients know how to handle a drama if it occurs.
Think about a check list for your clients before their trip:
- Let them know the emergency contact details in each country. This gets the ball rolling and in most cases, the issue can be sorted within 24 hours. Post check out resolutions leave a lingering bitter taste as they take weeks to resolve.
- Remember names and faces and take photographs! The picture of the dead rat is hard to argue. If customer service gurus like us know who to ask for at the hotel, it starts making everyone a little more accountable
- Keep a copy of the receipt or get them to provide a copy of their bank statement. No one can argue against a charge that shouldn’t be there.
Whatever the problem, if you prepare your customers with the right information that helps them out of a sticky situation, they’ll appreciate that you’ve done all you can to help them.
Across hundreds of thousands of bookings, things can and will go wrong. The aim of issues resolution is to not only fix the problem but make it a success story for you and your customer.
Well, that’s the approach we take.