Working as a cabin crew may sometimes face you with difficulties in communicating with the passengers or in satisfying their needs. Here we have listed several problem solving techniques that you might take into consideration.
LISTEN TO THE COMPLAINT
One of the most important factors, when dealing with the complaint, is to listen. Listening effectively can be done in a number of ways. This can be achieved through facial expression, body language, oral confirmation and clarification techniques.
If the passenger is sat down in their chair then you may wish to crouch down to their level. This will alleviate any confrontational body position where you are looking down at the complainant. This will also prevent the need for speaking any louder than necessary.
Then, listen to the complaint in full.
Maintain good eye contact throughout, nod, use an interested facial expression and confirm back to the passenger what they have told you. If the passenger begins to shout, becomes aggressive or confrontational, or even starts swearing, then you will have to be assertive in your response and inform them that their language will not be tolerated. Inform them that you want to deal with their complaint quickly and to their satisfaction, but it must be done in a calm manner.
APOLOGIZE AND APPRECIATE
Once you have listened to their complaint, you need to apologize and explain that you fully understand how they feel. This will usually have the effect of defusing any confrontation and will make the complainant feel that they are being heard. It is all about establishing a rapport with the passenger and making them feel that their complaint is important. The following is a sample response to a customer’s complaint:
“Thank you for taking the time, sir, to explain what the problem is. If the same situation had happened to me I would certainly feel as you do.”
In just two sentences, you have made the complainant feel valued and understood. Now you can begin to resolve the issue and you will find it easier to talk to them from now on. Providing their complaint is genuine, you should now take ownership of the complaint and see it through to a successful resolution.
You have listened to their complaint and acknowledged there is an issue. Now move on to establishing the facts, which will give you the tools to create a successful resolution.
When dealing with a complaint as a cabin crew member, the next important stage is to gather as much essential information as possible. The reason for doing this is that it will allow you to make a more informed judgement about the situation and it will also allow you to take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Complaints take time to deal with and detract you from other important duties. When a member of the team is dealing with a complaint, the rest of team must make up for the deficit in numbers. Therefore, if the situation that led to the complaint in the first instance can be avoided in the future, this will help the flight to run smoother and allow the cabin crew staff to concentrate on their primary role – providing a high level of customer service and ensuring the safety of all passengers.
When gathering information, concentrate on the following areas:
What is the complaint in relation to?
What are the facts of the incident?
Who was responsible?
How would the passenger like the problem to be resolved?
Once you have gathered all of the facts, you will then be able to take action to resolve the issue.
PROVIDE A SOLUTION
Coming up with a suitable solution to the customer’s complaint can be difficult, especially if they are reluctant to accept any reasonable offering. Therefore, it is important that you remain calm throughout. Make sure that the solution/s you offer are relevant to the situation and are achievable. If they are not, then do not make the mistake of offering something you cannot deliver. This will just make the situation worse.
When providing a solution, ask the customer if your offer is acceptable. For example: “Would you like me to get you another drink?” or “Would you like me to see if we have an alternative meal?”
By offering different solutions to the complainant you are asking them to make the decision for you, and therefore making your life easier. This way, they will end up getting what they want and, therefore, will be happy with the resolution. Remember – when dealing with the complaint, never take it personally and never be rude or confrontational.
REACH AN AGREEMENT
Once you have offered the solution, make sure you get the complainants approval first. This will prevent them from complaining about the action you are taking to resolve the issue. The most effective method of achieving this is through verbal acknowledgement. For example: “OK, sir, to resolve the issue, I will go away and get you another meal. I will make sure, this time that the meal is hot. Is this alright with you?”
Reaching an agreement is important psychologically. The passenger will feel that you are being considerate to their needs and, by reaffirming the solution with them; you are showing them that you have their interests at heart.
Plain and simple. Now that you have reached an agreement, get on with task in hand. If it is going to take you a while to take the action agreed upon, you might find it useful to inform the passenger. “OK, I will now go and get your meal. This might take me a few minutes, so please bear with me.”
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