Unhappy customers are a drain for any business, and it only takes one of them to ruin a perfectly good day at work for everyone. And it only takes one unsatisfied customer to steer many more prospective customers away from you. Since customer satisfaction is paramount, it is critically important to effectively handle any unhappy customer.
Unhappy customers have their reasons. Some don’t feel well, some have unrealistic expectations, and others may just have lousy dispositions. However, you must be honest in recognizing that others may have a legitimate complaint and that you, somehow, may have been complicit in the crime of poor customer service.
Whatever the cause, unhappy customers are blockages to a positive brand image and to your continued success. Obviously you want those unhappy customers happy again. The customer may not always be right, but if they are a valued customer or carry influence with others, you need to make things good for them. Indeed, effective handling of delicate customer issues can differentiate one supplier from another.
There are 7 steps for resolving customer complaints which are time proven. Responsiveness is the key – as time must not lapse making things worse with non-action. Be proactive and approach the customer as soon as you learn they are unhappy, or disgruntled.
- Listen Intently: Listen to the customer, and do not interrupt them. They need to tell their story and feel that they have been heard.
- Thank Them: Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. That will diffuse some of the negative emotion and set the stage for the next step.
- Apologize: Sincerely apologize for the way the situation has made them feel. This is not the time for excuses; you must apologize.
- Seek the Best Solution: Determine what the customer is seeking as a solution. Ask them; often they’ll surprise you for asking for less than you initially thought you’d have to give—especially when they sense your intention is genuinely sincere.
- Reach Agreement: Seek to agree on the solution that will resolve the situation to their satisfaction. Aim to deliver what the customer wants.
- Take Quick Action: Act on the solution with a sense of urgency. A professional and immediate response can be appreciated as much as the solution itself.
- Follow-up: Follow-up to ensure the customer is completely satisfied. Everything up to this point will be for naught if the customer does not feels whole.
Problems and mistakes happen, but customer service problems can be opportunities if addressed properly. An honest, professional and seek-to-satisfy approach counts with people. Customers will remember you, happily come back or refer you when you handle problems with the very best you can offer, demonstrating with a doubt that you value them and their business. With a culture of always delighting customers even in the face of problems, you can elevate your standing to being the one supplier who somehow, some way manages to be extraordinary.
Patrick Leask Certified Business Coach at ActionCOACH
Phone: (813) 675-7722