How to Handle Customer Service in Times of Disaster
Customer service can be a tricky thing even when times are good. When a person’s product — that they spent good money for — isn’t working, they often get angry and frustrated fast. But when everything’s going wrong, it’s easy for your customer service crew to lose their heads. That doesn’t help anybody. In fact, when things are the worst is when you need your customer service team to be on its best game.
Here are some tips on how to handle customer service in times of disaster.
You’ve heard it before: be proactive, not reactive. The worst thing you can do when a crisis hits is to try to figure things out on-the-fly. As a manufacturing manager, you should be aware of everything that could go wrong that might put undue strain on your customer service team. Make a list and come up with a plan of action for each eventuality.
Before you put anyone behind the response desk, make sure they know the disaster strategic plan backwards and forwards so they can remain cool and simply follow the plan should disaster actually strike.
Set Up a Customer Service Command Center
Each of your customer service representatives should set up their area like its own command center. Any knowledge base or technical manuals should be open and ready to go. Messaging apps should be live in case your customer service rep needs to communicate with any other team member for a quick answer.
If your customer service employee doesn’t have the answer to a question, he or she should have immediate access to it at his or her fingertips.
This goes hand-in-hand with preparation. You know the types of disasters that may strike, so make sure you have sufficient monitoring for your systems so you can tell right away when something is going wrong, alert the rest of your team, and take quick action. This doesn’t mean you need to be focused on disaster striking all the time — you should just make sure your infrastructure is set up so that when disaster does strike, you won’t be the last to know.
Whether you find out about the disaster through your own monitoring, via one of your customer service reps, or through another method, as soon as you know the nature of the disaster, let all relevant personnel know you are aware of it and are working to correct the problem. Remind staff to consult their plan of action for this particular emergency and assure them that if they remain calm and follow the plan, the crisis will be averted shortly.
With any luck, you will experience few company-wide disasters in your business and your customer service calls will be of the garden-variety “I can’t get this thing to work, now fix it,” type. But just in case the worst happens, it’s comforting to be confident that you know what to do.