Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Boss2966
Industrial Relations
Tajsateesh
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling
Nashbramhall
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms
+2 Others

Hello , I am Harmeet ,I am fresher in Generalist role , Working with an IT Company , We daily deal with customers to sell out IT Solutions , One of our customer who was dissatisfied with our product complaint to Employee X , and he / she was unable to understand the problem so the customer used abusive language and this hurted our employee. The situation is under controlled as employee Y handled it in a polite way , but my CEO now has asked me as a HR to send E- Mail to the customer to ask his feedback and to make him realize that the language he / she used was not professional.
I request you to help me to draft such email so that the customer doesnt gets angry and even realizes his mistake.
20th December 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Harmeet,

Rather than writing mail to the customer I have little different take. Before writing mail to the customer, first what we need to do is to take steps to avoid repetition of situation of this kind. Suppose there is one more case of angry customer then will you use the same draft of the mail to intimate his/her mistake?

There are two things here. That customer was short tempered. Customer got flared up because Employee X was unable understand what he/she was saying. Therefore it is the issue of communication and not the emotion of customer. Let us improve the process rather than addressing emotion of the customer.

In this world, there are people of all hues. You cannot expect everyone to be the way you are. Therefore, to avoid the repetition of situation of this kind it is better to design a proper form where recipient of the call can record the problems that customer is facing. The form should have details like name, product sl no, whether under warranty period, what is the problem, is it complete break down or intermittent break down etc. Sooner you get call from customer, you may send this form by mail or start recording the information sequentially. Completeness of communication makes, it easier to understand the customer's problem.

If it is feasible then you may upload the form on your website too. Sooner the customer fills all the details, customer should get the complaint reference No. With this facility, it will be easier for you go generate MIS and analyse the customer complaints.

By the way what employee Y could do that why employee X could not do? Is the length of their experience is same? If employee is inexperienced then why did you toss him/her to receive the customer's complaint? Have you given adequate training to employee X?

Other senior members may give their views.

Thanks,

Dinesh V Divekar

+91--


20th December 2013 From India, Bangalore
Dear Harmeet,
Dinesh Divekar has raised apt questions and given you some sound suggestions, to which I will add some more.
There two aspects that attracted my attention. One, the comment that employee Y handled it in a polite way implies that Employee X did not handle it that way. Do not forget the notion that "Customer is always KING." Also, remember the adages "He who pays calls the tune" and "Sticks and stones may break my bone but rude words do not hurt me."
As you have not given enough information, it is difficult to say whether is customer was right or not in this case. I as a receiver of umpteen unwanted phone calls, sometimes tell the caller that I am not interested in the call. Sometimes they do not take "NO" for an answer and then I put the phone down or tell them where to go, depending upon my mood. If someone is rude over the phone, I could not care as I attribute such behaviour to poor upbringing and do not brood over it.
20th December 2013 From United Kingdom
I completely agree with you Mr Dinesh, As far as training is concerned , we are into process to train properly our employees to handle customer complaints.
But in this case the customer used such words which he was not supposed to do . My job here comes to train the employee which is in process and deal with customer so that he is convinced enough and also my Senior wants me to make the customer his realize mistake of using inappropriate words which should be in mail.
In- Short i am required to train our employees so that it does not happen in future and also to ensure our employee that we are here to take care of them too.
So how can i draft a mail to convince the customer as well as our employee.
21st December 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Harmeet,

If you read my post again you will find that my emphasis is on fixing the process flaw and not on employee training. Yes, employee training is important but then customer dissatisfaction has happened because of process flaw.

Let me quote example from hospitality industry. Prominent hospitality groups like Taj, ITC, Oberoi etc select the cream from the hotel management institutes. Their selection standards are very high. Further they are trained internally. Nevertheless, guest dissatisfaction happens in their hotels and bear brunt of guest's emotional outburst.

Now does it mean that these hoteliers start educating their guests on how to manage emotions? Look, we have world-class staff, world-class organisation culture etc. yet you yell at us. Can they say like this? We have to take these things in our strides, take a lesson and move on.

Just last evening, my broadband connection was not working. I called the call centre. When I was explaining my problem of internet, lady interrupted me and started questioning whether I have given application for shifting of my telephone etc. For a moment, I too got angry and told her to first listen what I say. Should this thing happen in a company that provides broadband services all over India? But then staffs do commit mistake.

Customer's outburst is a result of his/her dissatisfaction. Therefore, to fix the dissatisfaction, remove the root cause. Not that I am averse in providing you draft of letter. That anyway I have done dozen times on this forum. But then somehow I am not convinced. Your case gives a feeling that you wanted to apply soothing balm on the emotionally wounded employee by issuing letter to your customer.

Let us see what other senior members say.

Thanks,

Dinesh V Divekar
22nd December 2013 From India, Bangalore
Hello, I fully agree with the views of Mr. Dinesh V Divekar and Mr.Nashbramhall jointly. We should not try to train or advise the client as he is king and we get business through him. Mahavir Mittal
22nd December 2013 From India, New Delhi
Dear Harmeet,
If you are wondering why we are all reluctant to give you a draft, I hope Dinesh has convinced you about the futility of changing a customer. If you are still not convinced, please read and digest the information at How To Handle Difficult Callers
22nd December 2013 From United Kingdom
I read with interest the problem and the wise comments of our seniors. Often someone comes up and asks to be provided the ammunition, and we advise them to go back and think again, whether it is required.

Rather than "fixing the customer " (albeit an irate one), it would be better to fix one's own processes and staff.

Employee Y handled the situation quite well; whereas employee X could not. Perhaps Y helped in "retaining" a customer whereas X had certainly lost him.

It is stated that X was not able to UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM OF THE CUSTOMER.

The questions I have in mind are :

(A)

Whether X was the right/nominated person to handle Customers' Complaints ??

If YES, then he/she should be trained to come up at par or better than Y.

If NO, then he/she should have politely directed the customer to the right person, like Y.

(B)

Why is the CEO insisting to send mail to the Customer ??

Most likely X has complained to the CEO, who wants to "restore the dignity" of X.

If X is not the person to take care of Customer Complaints; then he/she should be advised to just direct such customers to the right person.

(C)

Is X a woman employee ??

CEO's concern suggest as if, this is the case.

If this is true, then definitely he has reasons to worry. He is RESPONSIBLE to provide a Safe Working Environment to women employees.

He is also RESPONSIBLE for the actions of others, who may not be employees, like Customers; within the WORKPLACE.

If this is the Case, then there is some justification in sending a MAIL to the CUSTOMER (*).

The answers are with you.

Warm regards.

P.S. (*) With reference to the example cited - that of reputed hotels; now things need to change in respect of Customers/Clients/Guests who can be hauled up for their interaction with women employees.

The Employer has to ensure that creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment; or humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety; are included as "Sexual harassment" and "Customers" or Visitors too can be an Offenders (Respondent) under "Sexual harassment at Workplace (PP&R) Act 2013"
22nd December 2013 From India, Delhi
Dear Harmeet
First of all our members are trying to convince you because your company should not lose some valuable customers. Further you convince your CEO regarding sending email is not a wise idea and in turn your management must impart more training to the employee involved in customer handling. As mentioned by Mr. Simhan send the employee for some training programme so that he/she can get good knowledge about your product/service and convince the customers as done by employee Y. Hope you can understand why all the members are not advising you to send the email to the customer.
Further you have not given any reply to the questions raised by Mr. Dinesh and some examples given by Mr. Raj Kumar might have convinced you. The points given by our members are enough to convince your CEO, Management and the Employee X. If you have any further query, you can ask in this forum and surely you will get guidance from our members.
22nd December 2013 From India, Kumbakonam
Hello Harmeet Sethi,

Dinesh is right & Simhan & Raj Kumar have raised very valid queries.

Irrespective of WHY the customer blew his top in 'unprofessional' [though the definitions would vary from person to person] language, NEVER EVER put things in writing as the First Step, UNLESS you want to prepare grounds for later use [typically legal, but not limited to it] OR such a situation is a REPEAT. It COULD be COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE & open-up another set of situations, that even your CEO may find it tough to cap.

First CALL HIM & ask whether he/she is now satisfied that his/her problem is resolved & then raise the actual issue. You can be sure that--IF he/she is of normal nature & the blowing of temper was just due to his/her attempt to 'releasing pressure/anger', he/she will say SORRY even without your asking. Just let the matter rest there & inform your CEO [if you have the arrangement of recording such calls, retian the recording for any later Worst-case-Scenario situation].

But, like other members pointed-out, you ALSO NEED TO correct any drawbacks/lacunae/shortcomings WITHIN your own process of handling such situations in the future--which COULD include reorientation training to Employee X.

Another angle to this situation: The role of a person who needs to handle Customer Relations on a regular basis surely needs to have a lot of Presence-of-Mind & tact. In fact, many companies include this aspect of customer behavior & possible response mechanisms as a part of the Training. Like Dinesh & Simhan mentioned, customer responses depend on many factors over which you don't have any control.

Like I often say: What the other guy says or does ISN'T in your control...what is in YOUR control is HOW YOU RESPOND. This is different from being 'thick-skinned'.

W.r.t Raj Kumar's point of Employee X being a female & viewing the situation from a gender angle, I wouldn't really agree with him--UNLESS....REPEAT UNLESS..... the customer's language was GENDER-SPECIFIC [some customers do have the habit of passing comments like 'why did your company keep a female in this position', etc]. A call from your end is what I would STILL suggest....adding for effect that the female employee has taken it seriously & wants to go formal with a Complaint under the changed relevant Laws. That should do.

And IT'S HERE that I find your line "......he / she was unable to understand the problem..........." giving an impression that you ARE NOT giving the complete inputs--what does 'he/she' mean? Either the employee X has to be a Male OR a Female. Why such generalities...as one summarizes a case study?

Rgds,

TS
22nd December 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Thank you everyone for your valuable comments. I agree with everyone and will surely speak to my CEO about it . Mr Raj Kumar , Yes employee X is a female and she has even complained about this issue to him . Even he wants to maintain good relationship with customer but at the same time he even wants that he should do something to handle Employee X complaint .
But even i feel drafting an Email is not a right option but i will surely try to sort this matter by convincing my CEO.
23rd December 2013 From India, Mumbai
Hello Harmeet Sethi,
Since you have confirmed that Employee X is a female, suggest check-out IN-DETAIL IF this was a performance issue of the employee OR anything related to gender-bias.
In case it's performance-related, then DON'T get pressurized by what the employee says--people [IRRESPECTIVE of the gender] in awkward situations like this TEND to blame every single cause as emanating from the bias THAT'S CONVENIENT TO HIM/HER [other examples would be religious, caste/sect, race, region, etc].
The moment you allow this to happen, it becomes a precedent within the company & any future such OR similar situations [being a continuous activity, any business establishment is BOUND TO HAVE such situations from time-to-time, with only the grade & nature varying] being tagged with THIS solution.
You can see this happening in politics all the time....and corporate environment is no different many times.
Hope you get the point.
All the Best.
Rgds,
TS
23rd December 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Dear Harmeet
Thanks for this update !!
So, as we had guessed correctly, X is a female employee.
Therefore, there is some justification in CEO's reaction; else he could get involved with a potential sexual harassment case.
At this point, discuss with the CEO; and also take care of X's emotional state. If the natter ends there, then all is well.
Thereafter, you can find out about's X's role and JD and then suggest some people-skill related training.
If you are not able to convince them, and they still insist for a mail to the customer, despite the risk of losing him, you can come back again and seek help in drafting the mail.
Warm regards.

23rd December 2013 From India, Delhi
In the training programme you can add some subject regarding emotional control while attending calls from the customers. In case if the customer seems to cross the tolerance level or the employee unable to reply the question asked by the customers, then you can deploy some senior level customer relations manager who can handle the customer. In case of such situation, the employee dealing with the customer can transfer the calls to the customer relations manager. Hope your organisation also having the customer relation manager, who can handle the problematic customers. If not please do suggest your CEO/management to create such post and deploy some male staff to take care of these issues.
23rd December 2013 From India, Kumbakonam
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