I don’t have the authority

give authority

We’ve all heard it haven’t we “I’m sorry, I don’t have the authority to do that; I’ll need to get my manager.”  It’s certainly frustrating for a customer, but also demotivating for a team member knowing that they can’t resolve the problem even if they wanted to. And of course, this wastes your time too, when you’re called over to deal with the situation.

Here are 5 things to save you time, make team members feel empowered and trusted, and keep your customers happy when complaint handling…

1. Anticipate

Of course, prevention is better than cure, so involve your team in looking for solutions to common issues. Often what’s not obvious to us can be obvious to them.

But in any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Equip your team to deal with the unexpected.

2. Train

The more you can anticipate issues the more you can prepare your team to handle such situations, the more confident they’ll be, and the more likely they’ll deal smoothly with anything that crops up.

Even if you can’t avoid the issue, your goal is to minimise the negative impact on the customer experience, so teach them how to do this!

For example: how to minimise the impact of queues, what to do when a customer makes a scene, how to apologise without losing face when they make a mistake on a customer’s order or when something the customer really wants is no longer available.

It’s easy for the team members to get flustered when it goes wrong, so make this part of your training.

3. Agree levels of authority

Establish up front what levels of authority your team members have in any given situation, be that complaint handling or any other situation. Define these levels of authority when training, and give examples of when they need to refer to a manager or get sign off, and when it’s OK for them to make the decision.

4. Feedback and learn

Create a culture where it’s accepted that they won’t know all the answers or always know what to do, so it’s still OK to escalate if need be. There will never be one size fits all when complaint handling. But use this as an opportunity to learn for next time.

5. Recognise

Give your team a sense of ownership and pride by encouraging them to come forward with their own ideas of how the customer experience can be improved and make every effort to take their ideas on board. And when they’ve come up with their own solution to a customer’s problem give recognition where it’s due, then they’re far more likely to do so again!

If you only do one thing

Look back over the past couple of weeks, and review the most common situations when you or another manager has been called to assist with a customer issue. Then agree with your team what’s within their power to resolve these in future.

Then trust them to deliver!

related post:

Are complaints a good thing?

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