Brian, one of your most important customer walks into your store. But instead of the usual smile, he greets you with an angry look.
You’re not sure what happened, so you go out of the counter and greet him. That’s when things get ugly.
Brian starts naming the many ways you (your business) screwed up. The orders you promised weren’t delivered on time, and because of that, he wasn’t able to meet his obligations. Not only did he lose three hours while waiting for the delivery, he lost revenue, too.
Of course, you do your best to reason with Brian. Unfortunately, the damage has been done so nothing you say seems to pacify him. In fact, every word you say is just making him even more upset.
After a few minutes of ranting, it seems like he finally got it all out. And just when you thought there’s hope yet, he storms out of your store.
You just lost a loyal and valuable customer.
What would you do if that happened? Do you have customer satisfaction policies in place to prevent such problems?
Are your business communication skills good enough for dealing with irate clients?
It costs much more to get a new customer than to keep existing ones, so investing a little in customer satisfaction is a wise choice.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a small business owner. Even if your business is just a year old, keeping existing customers for as long as you can is crucial. The feedback you get from these disgruntled folks will also help you improve everything; from your business communication skills to the actual product you’re selling.
Unfortunately, despite huge customer acquisition costs, some companies don’t even have a solid customer satisfaction policy in place. They don’t even conduct surveys.
Back to the Question, “Can you still save that angry customer?”
Yes, in most cases you can.
Sometimes though, they’re not worth saving. So before we discuss how to prevent irate customers from leaving, I’ll tell you about customers worth firing first.
Customers Not Deserving of Your Efforts
You know how sometimes, you feel uneasy about doing business with someone? It’s not always clear why, but these gut feelings are often correct.
If you get a bad feeling, if they don’t return your calls promptly, pays late, doesn’t follow billing instructions, or has terrible business communication skills, then you might be better off not dealing with them.
The energy and time you spend handling their needs may not be worth the money you’ll earn.
How to Realistically Improve Customer Satisfaction without Bending Over
Admit Where You Went Wrong
This is one of the most important businesses communication skills: gracefully admitting your mistakes.
Assess where you went wrong, and then if the customer’s claims are correct, apologize. Don’t try to justify or defend yourself.
Make it Clear You Understand How Upset the Customer is
It’s tempting to just apologize and offer a solution right after. You just want to solve their problem, right? That method won’t work for everyone, especially for someone very upset.
Let the customer rant. Don’t interrupt them, even if what you’re about to say is going to solve their problem. If you interrupt someone in the middle of a rant, you’ll just make them feel worse.
After the customer finishes ranting, that’s when they’ll be ready to hear your side. They’ll also be more open to whatever solution you propose.
When the Proposed Solution isn’t Enough
Sometimes, a refund or a discount isn’t enough. There will be times when you have exhausted all the freebies, bonuses and other considerations within your power, but it’s still not enough to satisfy the customer.
What do you do then?
Simple. Ask what they want to happen.
It’s very obvious, but a lot of entrepreneurs neglect this powerful business communication skill.
Not sure how to ask? Just say, “If what I’m offering you doesn’t work, what do you propose we do?” Then you can negotiate things from there.
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t forget to follow-up.
Do what you said you’ll do. Even if it’s not yet done, update the customer just the same. This shows him or her that you’re on top of things, and that you’re working hard to get everything in order.
© 2015 Incedo Group, LLC