You received an email all in CAPS with multiple exclamation marks at the end of every sentence. It’s from one angry customer complaining about a defective product or an order not delivered on time.
Or maybe you got a call from an unhappy client threatening to withdraw and move her business elsewhere.
It can happen to the best of us.
Following are some tips to ensure that you’re dealing with unhappy customers the best possible way:
1. Switch to a customer service mindset. Once you receive complaints, the first thing you must do is to immediately adjust your mindset from that of a business owner to a customer service representative mindset.
This means that you abandon all defensive thoughts like “it’s not your fault, it’s your customer’s”, “your client is just too picky”, or “your customer made a mistake”. All that matters right now is that your customer is unhappy and you have to make sure you’re doing the best you can to solve the problem.
2. Empathize. Again, stop being on the defensive. Acknowledge your customer’s feelings. A simple “I apologize you didn’t like the mockup design” should do. Take note you’re not saying it’s your fault, you’re saying that you acknowledge the fact that the customer is not satisfied with your work, which would help calm their down.
3. Identify the real problem and listen actively. Once you’re customer has calmed down, have a sit down and find out what causes the problem. Start with a neutral statement such as “Let’s go over what happened” or “Kindly tell me why you’re upset.”
Let your client tell the story and listen attentively. Don’t settle with answers like “I just don’t like the design!” Get specifics and always ask for examples.
4. Present a solution. Now that you know what your customer wants, as long as it’s reasonable, go the extra mile to satisfy him/her. Offer to re-do the design or go back the drawing board when necessary. It’ll be worth your while. An unhappy customer can hurt your reputation and can badly affect your business in the long run.
5. Follow up. After your revision, get your client’s feedback promptly. More often than not, they’ll be satisfied with it. Whenever you can, send her a gift certificate or give her a discount on her next purchase.
6. Learn from what happened. The very last thing you should do is to reduce the risk of the same situation ever happening again. Go back to what caused the problem in the first place and make sure that it’s fixed immediately. Identify similar problems and address them as well.
Every business owner, at one point in their entrepreneurial career, will have to deal with angry and unhappy customers. This is an inevitable part of the game, and it’s never easy. But if you know what to say and what to do, you’ll not only save the situation, but end up with a better understanding of your customers’ needs, which in turn will lead up to a better and positive customer relationship.