When Customers Complain
Written on the 2 May 2016 by Charles Allen
The reality is that not every person we come into contact with will leave with our product and a smile on their face. People are different and they communicate differently and because of those two things, we could end up with a customer who is not happy with the product or service they have purchased from us.
I've heard different numbers for this statistic so I'm not going to suggest that the ones I'm giving are exactly right, but they're close enough to make my point: when someone is happy with your product or service, they might tell 2 or 3 people. When someone is unhappy with your service they will very likely tell 10 to 12 people! That's a huge disparity!
What makes that number even worse is that so few of the people who don't like your service will ever actually tell you. Only the people who tell you there is something wrong will give you an opportunity to fix it.
So what can you do?
One way is to ask for your customers to fill out a survey when they receive the product or service from you. It could be as simple as a single email to them where they choose an out-of-five or out-of-ten score for the service they received and a place for them to say how you could improve.
Believe me, asking each customer how you could improve your service is difficult medicine! Few people can actually do it! But the ones who do will continually tweak their business.
And what happens if a customer is dissatisfied with the service? Follow these steps to make it right:
1. Apologize. Even if it wasn't your fault, apologize.
Customers don't care that it was the courier's fault that the parcel took longer... in their mind it is your fault. Even if you inform them that it was the courier's fault, they will still hold you responsible. The only remedy is to apologize. Apologizing doesn't admit fault, but it does empathize with the customer. Something as simple as "I'm really sorry that the product got there late" is a good start.
2. Ask what would make them happy.
It's so easy for us to
make the knee-jerk reaction of imparting our feelings on the customer. This happens when we say: "here's how I'll fix it..." Instead, ask the customer how they would like it to be fixed. You may be surprised that they are willing to get less than you were willing to give. I've heard of entrepreneurs who would have been willing to refund the full cost of a membership while all that the person wanted was a partial discount.
3. Go above and beyond what they expected.
If they only wanted a 25% discount to make them happier, give them 50%. If they wanted 50%, give it to them free. There's a very good chance that you would have anyway, but if they state their request first, you have the chance to go one step further.
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