How to Use the HEART Method
to Improve Customer Satisfaction
With the economy moving more and more to ecommerce every day, customer options are aplenty in almost every industry. With that in mind, consumer behavior has dictated that customer satisfaction is becoming a higher priority when selecting a product or service.
There are plenty of ways to go about improving customer satisfaction, but one method that seems to touch on all of the most important parts in a concise manner is the H-E-A-R-T method. This can also be used for things like conflict resolution at work or with family, or really any walk of life, as it focuses on kindness and respect.
Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Respond, and Thank your clients.
The first step in the method is hearing what the customer has to say. Availability is just as important as the actual process of listening. If you don’t have four or five ways for customers to discuss products and service, you’re already behind as far as this first step goes. Phone lines, emails, in-person, text, live chats, and even snail mail are all ways that customers try to reach companies. Being as available as financially reasonable shows your customers you care before you ever even actually start discussing their experience or purchase.
For written customer service, it’s a bit easier to digest information, but even on the phone and in-person, showing interest and making sure you let them tell their whole story is step number one in solid customer service.
In contrast to hearing, empathizing is often a little easier to do in person, as angry people can take even the most eloquent and empathetic text and add their own negative or sarcastic tone. That, in and of itself, makes email responses and live chats a struggle, but there are strategies for empathetic writing that can help jump that hurdle.
As far as in-person empathy, do your best to put yourself in the person’s shoes, and dialogue such as “I understand” and “That would upset me too” can set you up for the most important part of the H-E-A-R-T method, the apology.
Some who utilize the method say the A is for assessing, but given the modern world with so many options for consumers to move on to, the classic mantra of “the customer is always right” is more important that ever, thus, assessments can be done during the empathy stage, and, no matter the occasion, an apology can be made.
It does not have to be elaborate, and there will certainly be customers who are more difficult that others, but those ones, in particular, like to hear that you think they are right. Akin to employee retention strategies focused on making the individuals feel empowered, apologizing to an angry customer makes them feel like they are in the proverbial driver’s seat.
In ideal situations, whether in-person, on the phone, or via text, you’ll already know how to fix the issue and a response can be as simple as “here, we fixed it!” If an immediate remedy to their issue is not available or beyond a given employee’s paygrade, a response of some sort is still very important right after an apology, as it will make the customer feel like you are in their corner.
Even a simple promise to immediately talk to someone who knows the answer to their question, or a promise of a follow up email if it is text based, adds a level of comfort even if the customer is a bit upset about not getting an immediate answer.
Whether the response is one that solves their issue or not, a thank you is a must. Let them know that their issue will be taken into account, and you appreciate them reaching out, as it will ultimately help your company serve customers better in the future. Add that you hope they continue to be one of those customers, of course!
As mentioned in the introduction, all of these steps in the H-E-A-R-T method stem from kindness and an attempt to understand where others are coming from. It’s great for customer service, but just as great in everyday life!