Over the past twenty-five years of working here at Rocky Mountain Forest Products, I have learned through trial and error, the best way to handle conflict resolution with our customers.
I learned quickly that all our customers wanted was to hear an updated version of the truth. If I was nervous to make a call to a customer and prolonged making that call, it would result in an agitated customer. If I was apprehensive in sharing all the details of a resolution or outcome with a customer, that also was upsetting to the customer.
More often than not, customers were appreciative of just knowing what was going on, even if it wasn’t the exact situation they had hoped for.
The four simple steps to conflict resolution, is what I have found to be the best practice on how to handle these stressful situations.
Step 1- Ask For Their Version Of The Story
Ask them for their version of the story, and let them vent and rant for as long as they need to. The key is to let them talk as much as possible while acknowledging that you are hearing them. Let them get it all out. If people feel like you are cutting them off, they will get angry and make them feel like they aren’t being heard. Be there, and listen completely.
Step 2- Apologize And Acknowledge
Regardless of who may be at fault, Apologize to the customer. Whether we are at fault or not, the fact is- they had an interaction with our company that left them irritated and pissed off. We never want that! We offer an apology acknowledging how frustrating the situation is for them.
Step 3- Ask How They Want The Situation Handled
Ask your customer- “In a perfect world, what would make this situation right in your eyes?” I have been surprised at times, that all a person really needed and wanted was to be heard and apologized to. On the flip side, I have also had the experience of customers asking for outlandish things that we both know is not feasible. Either way, this gives you a gage of what the solution should look like.
Step 4- Research And Resolution
Notify the customer that you are going to go look into the situation further. Let them know exactly when you plan on calling them back with a resolution. Make sure to call when you say you will call. This is a key point! You have to follow-through with this- it shows the customer you can be trusted and that you are taking this problem seriously.