Managing customer expectations efficiently is the key to retaining them for the long term. Customers that do complain provide brands vital clues about what’s working and what isn’t. However, not all customer complaints arise from genuine issues with your product. Some of them are the result of misunderstanding or unreasonable expectations on the part of the customer.

Thus it is important for you to have a strategy for addressing customer complaints caused by misunderstandings as these are essentially a matter of differing perceptions and not tangible issues that can be fixed. Research shows that dissatisfied customers will tell 9 to 15 other people about how they were treated, while 13% of customers will tell as many as 20 people. However, if you manage to resolve the issue to their satisfaction, 70% of those same customers would be willing to buy from you again.

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The average customer support rep routinely faces situations where a customer complains repeatedly about the same issue or refuses to understand your perspective.  For example, standard company policy may be clear about warranties or shipping and delivery terms. However, customers may still have reservations about them. A big part of resolving such issues is patience and effective communication.

Let’s assume a customer insists that the date he shipped his order back to you be considered as the actual date of return. Your standard policy states that the arrival date will be considered for calculating the refund. In this case, the order is received beyond the 45-day window and the customer is now eligible for a refund of only 65%.

This type of complication is common for all businesses and it falls on the able shoulders of customer service reps to deal with them.

Proven Customer Support Strategies to Tackle Customer Misinterpretations

Here are some of the tried and tested strategies for handling the above customer misinterpretation in an efficient and empathetic way:

1. Give customers space to express their point of view:

The first step to address a situation where a customer has misinterpreted service terms and conditions is to let them speak. Agents must be trained to listen carefully and take notes about what the customer is saying.

At the same time, it is useful to scan previous interactions for additional information that may be helpful. Even if a ticket has been closed earlier, it must be reopened if a customer is not satisfied with the outcome. Document all new details provided by the customer.

2. Acknowledge the customer’s emotional state:

Customers are likely to be irate when things do not work as they had expected. Allowing them to vent their frustration is the first step to creating a conducive atmosphere for communication. Often a customer may simply refuse to provide the order tracking number or directly ask for a supervisor. 

So, it is important for agents to use the ‘feelings first, facts follow’ principle. This means to empathize with the customer’s feelings about the situation and then address its reasons.

3. Paraphrase to confirm understanding:

Often a customer may describe an issue that is connected to another problem that may have occurred in the past. Here, it is important for your agents to proactively check the status of previous tickets, if any. 

This can help the customer remember the resolution they were given the last time and the reasons for the same. In case, the customer still questions the policy, for instance, the returns, shipping, or exchanges, you can take them through the FAQs using proper examples.

Agents need to use close-ended questions to get a grasp of the customer’s exact concerns or they risk further aggravating him or her. For example, “You’d like a full refund because you sent it back a day before the window expired, is that correct?” is likely to get you a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

4. Use the customer’s own words:

One of the best ways to help confused customers understand your point of view is to use their own words to describe a problem. Break the problem down into smaller chunks and address it one point at a time. For example, explain what your store policy says with regards to the eligibility criteria for a full refund on a returned order. 

Then, take them through the charges that apply beyond the standard 14-day window. 

Finally, ask them to look at the specific clause on their order receipt. This approach should help agents overcome resistance and give customers the clarity they need.

5. Explain the pros and cons:

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The best way to get a customer to understand is to explain the reason behind why you have a limit on returns. Explaining the pros and cons is likely to clear their apprehension and even reduce the number of future returns from them. It is a fact that many customers buy products online with the intention of returning them. This is a reality that e-commerce business owners must learn to live with. 

In fact, online orders worth more than $41.6 billion were returned in 2019 by online shoppers, according to research conducted by Optoro. In the situation described above, telling customers how shipping costs increase with every extension on returns beyond the 14-day window can change their viewpoint.

6. Remember to slow down:

It is wrong to assume that some customers want to shift the blame and get away with a refund. In some cases, language barriers can be a reason for customers to genuinely misinterpret what you are trying to say. 

It is useful to slow down when speaking with seniors or customers whose native language may not be English. If possible, arrange an interpreter to translate for your agents. This can put the customer at ease and also help your agent retain him or her. 

Also, it is important for agents to reframe the situation from one of ‘misunderstanding’ to ‘oversight’. This is likely to give the customer some room for making amends after he or she realizes that they had it wrong all along.

Last Words:

Customer satisfaction is one of the best ways to differentiate your online store from the rest of the competition. Small businesses may be on a first-name basis with their customers but they still need to provide support 24×7 to retain them in a highly competitive market. The cost factor can often be the biggest obstacle. However, outsourcing to an experienced partner like Helplama can provide you access to quality talent at affordable prices.

Besides, you can scale up or down at any time depending on volumes. Helplama does not insist on long-term contracts so you do not risk tying up funds. What’s more, we have a Zero-Risk Guarantee that gives you extra flexibility. Want to know more? Contact us today!