7 Ways to Turn a Bad Experience into Customer Success

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist

burke-alder-customer-success-leader-best-pratices

It’s inevitable that bad experiences will happen as it relates to the journey your customers are on with your organization. Many companies have hundreds if not thousands of customers that are engaging with their product, team members, and services each and every day. And the likelihood that each customer has a seamless and pleasant experience every day is unrealistic.

Joy, Pain, Joy

Think about your own personal experiences with the software products you use each day. You might love a product one day and despise it the next, due to a network error, a bug, or an irritating conversation with a team member. But those bad days are just part of the journey, and with the right attitude and process, can be turned around into positive experiences that build even greater loyalty.

CSMs have the difficult task of taking bad experiences and turning them into powerful moments that can positively impact the customer’s overall journey.

7 Ways to Convert a Bad Experience into Customer Success

Let’s take a look at 7 ways CSMs can turn bad experiences into success:

1. Seek To Understand The Customer

For many customers, their first instinct will be to sound the alarm and point out the issue that they’re facing, whether it’s a product bug, a renewal frustration, or a negative experience with a team member. While the CSM may not feel their situation is urgent or more pressing than another issue they are solving, they must take the time to truly seek out what the customer is saying and why it’s important to them. The CSM should ask questions like “Can you explain in detail what happened? Who or what was involved? Is there anything else I should know about what you experienced?” Seek to understand versus just being understood.

2. Listen Intently and Use Clarifying Questions

If the first step is to understand the customer, then the next step is to listen. Business often takes place over phone calls and emails, so it becomes even more important for customers to feel listened to and heard, regardless of the channel. If a customer feels as if the CSM is disengaged or pre-occupied, then they may eventually stop providing feedback or worse yet—become a silent customer.

CSMs should intently listen to the customer and ask clarifying questions to make sure they understand the entire situation. Even if it seems trite or the CSM believes they understand all of the details, questions can help the customer feel that their situation is important.

3. Repeat What Was Shared And Confirm It Is Correct

After the customer shares the details and the CSM listens and asks follow-up questions, they should also confirm that what they heard is indeed correct. It’s all too easy to get facts switched or to assume some of the details. That’s why repeating it back to the customer and having them verbally respond or confirm via email is critical.

Another benefit of repeating and confirming is when it comes to internal conflict that the customer may have faced with another member of the team. If a problem becomes a “he said / she said” conversation, it’s vital to have all of the facts laid out so the situation can be evaluated fairly.

4. Show Empathy, Real Empathy

Customers don’t want to experience problematic situations. They expect the product to work, they want a pleasant experience with their team members, and they come to rely on efficient and effective responses. When one of those things doesn’t happen, then it’s problematic for the customer and causes them either a loss in time, in revenue, or in confidence with the product or company. None of these outcomes are good things, so while the customer may approach the situation a little too harshly, it’s important for CSMs to empathize and even apologize if appropriate. Kind words and an “I’m sorry” can go a long ways in mending a bad situation. Your goal is to help your client really feel that you know where their situation and where they stand.

5. Discuss Next Steps & A Timeline For Follow-up

When something goes wrong, a customer expects that it will be addressed in an efficient manner. They want to know that, for example, the bug they experienced will be passed along to product and will be resolved. While sometimes problems (especially product related or personnel related) can take longer to remedy, it should be made clear to the customer that next steps will be taken. Sometimes those next steps should involve the customer, but other times they will be resolved without the customer’s involvement. If the latter is the case, then the CSM should follow-up with status updates or, more preferably, provide an update when the issue is resolved.

6. Follow Up On the Situation

After next steps have been established, a CSM becomes even more credible when they make good on their words of remedying the situation. How many times have you had an issue with a company that you reported, but months later realized you never received a response?

When issues disappear into black holes, customers begin to lose confidence and will, again, become hesitant to share feedback in the future. CSMs should over-communicate throughout the process, scheduling follow-ups to ensure the customer knows the status.

7. Make Sure The Customer Feels they Have Been Taken Care Of

Finally, when the situation is resolved or next steps are taking place, it’s key for the CSM to have a level-set conversation with the customer to make sure they felt heard and that they are satisfied with the solution. The process may not always flow perfectly and there may be negative conversations or hiccups along the way, but the customer relationship should remain at the forefront.

Taking the time to ask questions about how the process went, what could be improved upon next time, and whether or not it impacted their overall satisfaction will go a long way in creating rock solid customer partnerships.

Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can develop a proactive approach to turning bad experiences into customer success:

Customer Success eBooks:

5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Customer Success Blog Posts:

6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders

The 3 Keys to Building Relationship ROI

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