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Train Your Team for These Customer Service Scenarios

by Emily Hall · Updated Dec 25 2019

There comes a time in every support technician's career when they stumble into a situation they've never encountered before. Being out of familiar territory is uncomfortable, and sometimes wrong decisions are made.

However, you can better prepare for those situations by creating and practicing scenarios. By knowing how to respond in certain scenarios, it not only prepares you for those specific scenarios, but it can shed light on how you should act in other, similar scenarios as well.

It never hurts to be prepared. Whether you create an organized group to run scenarios with or do it as a solitary exercise, reviewing scenarios and having a set of steps prepared can not only better prepare your staff, but also makes your customers happier.

We've put together a list of scenarios we think it's imperative to think about when training. Having specific answers at the ready will help fend off awkward mishaps and decisions that reflect poorly on the company.

Freaked out by dealing with angry customers? Check out our resource: 9 Steps for Responding to Angry Customers

"Can You Add XYZ Feature?"

Sometimes customers will ask you if they can add a new feature to the product. It may be an idea of theirs or something they think would greatly enhance their user experience. But whatever the case, they ask for it to be included.

There are two ways for this to go. If the feature is a possibility, you can tell them that you'll pass the idea on to the development team.

On the other hand, if you know the feature will never see the light of day, it can be tempting to tell them "maybe", then never pass the message on. However, this doesn't keep them from checking back in and staying hopeful that one day the feature will be included.

While it can be difficult to tell a customer no, in this situation it may be best to tell them the truth. Thank them for sharing their thoughts or ideas, but tell them that at this time your company doesn't plan on implementing a feature like that. While this may be disappointing, it's better than feeding false hope. If you need tips on how to tell the customer no, check out this article.

"Give Me a Discount"

Discounted customers are better than no customers, so why not give them a discount? While you should double-check your company policy on this, first, it might not hurt to give them a little help in the beginning. They may turn into a valuable customer.

However, make sure that they aren't a pain in the ass customer (or PITA customer, since they've become such a staple in the support world). All companies have some variation of these customers - the troublemakers and bullies who, for all their steam, never seem to buy anything extra and seem to just exist to waste your time.

Before giving them a discount, you want to be sure they aren't a PITA customer. Asking for a discount can be a sign and isn't something you want to encourage.

"I love your product!"

It's always awesome to hear something positive about your company. Naturally, support staff should express thanks for the kind words. But you may be asking yourself, "Why should staff be trained for this scenario?"

For testimonials, of course! It's always a good idea to have a few handy for a rainy day, so while the customer is flying high, ask them if they would mind if you used their words as testimonials for the company.

If they'd rather not, that's okay, too! Thank them all the same for their kind words.

"I'm migrating from XYZ competitor."

Training your staff for this scenario prepares them to impress customers migrating to your product from a competitor. They should be prepared to present an educated feature comparison between the two. Showing customers that they have the same features will inspire confidence that they made the right choice.

And if something is missing, be upfront about it. The customer won't appreciate you trying to give them the go around and they will eventually find out for themselves that the feature doesn't exist on your platform. Save yourself the trouble and tell them that no, your product does not have XYZ feature. But you can recommend similar features or any workarounds that you are aware of.

When the Customer is Very Angry

We wish this never happened, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes you have to deal with customers who are just livid.

The first thing to do in this scenario is to figure out whose fault it is. If it's the company's, it's best to acknowledge the error and let them know that the necessary parties have been notified so that a fix can be put in place.

If the fault lies with the customer, it's imperative that you maintain a respectful voice. Because you need to tell them that the problem is on their end, not yours. Soften the blow by supplying potential fixes for the situation.

We have a helpful resource here for dealing with angry customers. Check it out: 9 Steps for Responding to Angry Customers

"Why is your product so expensive?"

Sometimes this is a PITA customer complaining, but other times this query can come from a place of genuine interest. It's an unspoken invitation of, "Convince me."

So make sure you have a handy list of components, features, and work that go into the product that justify its cost. For example, you may talk about the level of service that your product affords that maybe your competitors don't. Or the excellent hardware it uses, etc.

If the customer seems very cost-conscious, it never hurts to mention any current promotions you have running. That may help them feel like they are getting more bang for their buck.

"I want to return or exchange this product!"

If a customer wants to return or exchange the product, they likely didn't find what they were looking for. The best thing you can do is respond to them ASAP. Let them know you're working on getting them their refund or exchange. If they have to wait around for a response, they may take their discontent with your product and turn it into a bad review.

If they feel like their request is immediately being tended to, it can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Be the team that has customers saying, "I don't know about their product, but their support team was super responsive and got me what I needed right away."

When You Don't Know the Answer

It happens to everyone eventually. No amount of training can prepare you for everything that customers will throw at you -though that doesn't mean you shouldn't review scenarios like this.

When you do end up in a situation where you aren't sure how to proceed, it's good to have rehearsed a plan. Having it rehearsed keeps you from stammering or reasoning through it out loud or just telling them that you don't know. Instead, you can repeat the question back to the customer to give you a bit of time to figure out if you know the answer. If not, then you can say something like, "That's a great question. Let me go find that out for you!"

This lets them know that, while you don't know off the top of your head, you're going to go find the answer for them.

Prepare Your Team

Prepping your team by going over scenarios like this can prepare them for more complicated queries. Better prepared teams can present a more unified front to customers and get customers answers to more in-depth questions. Going over scenarios will also highlight any missing resources you have. For example, if you don't have a handy competitor's feature comparison, it might be a good time to create one and put it in a spot where both support and your customers can easily access it.