What’s the first thing you should say when a customer complains? “Thank you! Please tell me how we failed to live up to your expectations.”
Why? Because, if the customer hadn’t complained you wouldn’t know they were dissatisfied and you wouldn’t have an opportunity to follow-up on the complaint and attempt to resolve it. Numerous studies have shown that people who complain, and whose complain is resolved, become more valuable long-term customers than those who never complain.
If your clients aren’t complaining then your communications with your clients aren’t as transparent or as honest as they should be. Invite your customers’ complaints so you can find out what problems you have and fix them before they hurt or kill your business. If one customer is having a problem with something, the odds are others are as well.
If you have others having problems and not telling you about it, you can bet they’re telling their friends and that’s not the kind of referral that going to build your business.
So what to you do after you tell the customer “thank you?” Be quiet and listen. Let the customer tell you everything about their negative experience. Do not interrupt, do not become defensive, do be interested and ask clarifying questions. Even take notes to show the customer how important this issue is to you.
Once you have established all of the facts, reassure the customer that you will do everything you can to rectify the situation and then do so. Don’t look for people to blame, look for processes to fix so this doesn’t happen again. Also, let the customer know when they will hear back from you with resolution, unless you can resolve the issue on the spot, and then make sure you respond to the customer when you say you will.
Handled properly, dissatisfied customers are a great opportunity to create “raving fans” who will provide you with a lifetime of revenue and referrals. As such, if your employees are the one’s hearing from dissatisfied customers, empower them to resolve problems as well. Your company will be more successful because of it.