We’ve discussed how to deal with angry customers, and how to foster empathy, and even how to apologize. These are all invaluable tools for dealing with our customers and leaving them with a positive impression, so let’s add two more skills to our arsenal: reflection and validation.
In general life, it is often our knee-jerk reaction to another person’s anger or unhappiness to become defensive. Not only is this not helpful (ever), it would also be a wholly unprofessional way to act with our customers. This is where reflection or validation come in.
Reflection is the act of mirroring back the customer’s feelings to them. It not only serves to confirm that you’ve properly understood what the customer has told you, but it also makes the customer feel heard (and thus like he and his feelings matter). For example, Greg calls in and says, “I ordered several things from you nearly a week ago and I still haven’t received a shipping confirmation!” A reflective answer would be, “You’re unhappy with the speed in which the products are coming to you”. Now that Greg knows that you’ve truly heard his complaint, he’ll be more amenable to a positive resolution. While a reflective answer is good and helpful, you can also take things one step further by providing a validating response.
According to Merriam-Webster, to validate means to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][feelings]. When you actively listen to someone’s concern, reflect it back to them, and also provide the message “your feelings are understandable and ok”, you are giving that person validation. Let’s look back at Greg again. His complaint was, “I ordered several things from you nearly a week ago and I still haven’t received a shipping confirmation!” A validating response to him would be, “I can see why the lack of shipping confirmation is very frustrating. It only makes sense that you’d want your order to arrive quickly; anyone would.” Instead of someone who merely hears Greg’s problem, you’ve now positioned yourself as an ally, telling Greg that it is both normal and acceptable to be frustrated given his situation. Because people are wired to seek validation of their feelings, doing so is a quick and easy way to build rapport with our customers (and elsewhere in life).
By working on our relationship-building skill sets, we can greatly impact our interactions with our customers. The more frequently we can, at minimum, reflect their feelings and always aim to validate them, the stronger a bond we will foster with our customer base. If our customers are constantly getting the message that they matter to us, we will in turn matter to them.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]