1. Happy customers bring more business
We have learnt from experience that when we keep our guests happy, they go on to be our loyal customers and many will recommend our brand to their network of contacts.
All Abiel staff are trained in the “LAST” model which is the “Listen, Apologise, Solve, Thank” approach. This customer service model comes in most useful when handling difficult customers. As part of our “friends first” approach, our staff handles difficult customers by first providing a listening ear. After hearing them out, we say sorry – not necessarily to admit we are in the wrong – but to sincerely express that we feel bad about the customers having had a bad experience with us. This is no different from the way we would respond when personal friends tell us about unhappy incidents that have happened to them.
While listening and saying sorry will often be enough to sooth the emotions of difficult customers, we then do our best to solve the problems raised by the customers and, if appropriate, we give them progress updates to managing customers expectations. To close the loop, we thank the customers for flagging the issues directly to us and express our gratitude for having the chance to make things right.
We have a customer who was so pleased with the service recovery we extended to him due to a double-booking that he in turn recommended another 5 colleagues to us. All 6 of them are now long-term tenants with Abiel Corporate Housing.
2. Management must “walk the talk”
Our second tip on managing customers expectations is for a business to be consistent with the way it deals with customers – from the senior management team to frontline staff.
In our case, Abiel’s standard customer service training ensures consistency in our “friends first” approach, while the LAST model standardises the way everyone goes about handling difficult customers. Regardless of the business you are in, the management must “walk the talk” and lead the way by practising the same customer service philosophy to managing customers expectations.
3. Keep customer service skills fresh
Our final tip on managing customers expectations is to keep the shared customer service philosophy fresh and consistent throughout the company. As most of our customers are repeat business, Abiel’s customers have come to expect high level of service standards from us and we work hard to ensure every Abiel team member keeps his or her skills up to date. We share case studies and use role play training during our regular team meetings to improve the ability of our staff to adapt to different scenarios in order to effectively handle difficult customers.
If you have any comments to share on how to manage customers expectations for long term business success, you are most welcome to drop us a line too!