How to handle micromanaging customers to boost your customer service

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tapping customer service calls on the idea of being overly patient, adhering to what the customers on the other line want, to keep them from waiting—to please them.

Well, these sum up your duty as a call center representative; it's part of your job description. You have to listen to whatever the customer says to such an extent that you would embrace the "Customer is always right" maxim—most of the time, at least.

But what if on the other line is not your "regular" customer? They are not the types you encounter every day whose problems can be solved with one trusty answer you have used many times when handling other calls. For others, a few questions here and there will do. There may be some frustrations on the side, but at the end of the day, you still manage to satisfy them. What if the one who's calling you is not the typical appeasable customer but somebody who is overly inspecting what you do?

Well, we call them the micromanaging customers.

Do micromanaging customers exist?

As an adjective for customers, "micromanaging" has not reached the buzzword status yet, but micromanaging customers do exist.

Micromanagement is often associated with company managers and supervisors who are overly painstaking in guarding and scrutinizing their staff. In other words, they are the types who "over-check" their employees' every move and see the slightest errors their workers do.

Unfortunately, there are customers who treat call center representatives this way, too. Perhaps they think that since they are the customers, they have all the right in the world to check the call center representative detail-by-detail to know whether the representative is doing right or doing things according to their way. They are the customers who need intensive personal attention and handholding.

How do you handle micromanaging customers?

There is no magic trick here, in fact. These customers should also be treated as normal customers, although with little gravity.

First, listen. These demanding customers need to know that they are being listened to. Listening attentively to them is an affirmation that you are taking mental notes of everything they are saying, which gives them an idea that you are taking them seriously and that you are finding ways to give them solutions.

Never change the tone of your voice; remain calm, and never speak in a higher tone each time they get angry or irate. This may sound an affectation on your part, but this also shows your control of the situation. It is because the moment you answer the customer's anger with another anger, what comes next is a word war—a never ending shouting.

Always imagine that it is your dearest friend or mother who's on the other line—or someone you don’t want to upset, hurt, or offend. This will make you understand the situation more, perhaps to such an extent that you'll not hang the phone without solving the quandary in question. You should know when to give in. Certainly, there are lines that need not be crossed, say if the customer is being verbally abusive or just blabbering the same lines repeatedly even if you have already explained the situation. This is the time to call your immediate supervisor to know what to do next.

Micromanaging customers are not always right

In 2010, Ginger Conlin of 1to1 media wrote a straightforward article entitled "When it is OK to fire your customers?," where she talked about how her homeowners insurance was cancelled by Allstate Insurance right after Hurricane Katrina. She stated that it seemed absurd to her, but later understood the decision as she was in a "customer business" as well. She belonged to those "unprofitable customers" that AllState saw as detrimental to their company.

The common fear on "firing" micromanaging customers—or to make it innocuous, giving them up— is that it may cause bad publicity and negative word of mouth, especially in this day and age when everything could end up on social media. But Conlon related that there are times when firing overly demanding customers and ending business relationships with them would be a better option than retaining them and dealing with them on a daily basis.

Customers like them, if they interfere with the company's growth or negatively affect the quality of your customer service, are better off fired. Yet, before doing such thing, you must do all you can with all the possible moves to be patient with their demands and convert them into satisfied customers.

Visit Open Access BPO's website and join us on Google+ and learn more about how you can boost your customer service through our voice and non-voice solutions.