Thanks to Ken Dooley and the Sales & Marketing Update (http://bit.ly/q1ll7O) for these great reminders that apply to anyone serving customers.
Salespeople, CSRs and business owners can win over most disgruntled customers by following three rules when a complaint is first voiced.
- Stay quiet. Remember you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. About 65% of difficult customers just want to vent, know they are being heard and have their concerns validated. When a customer starts complaining, listen first before jumping to an apology or solution. Sometimes that’s all they need to do to remedy the issue. Once they have finished, the first thing to say is “thank you.” This feedback is invaluable for your business.
- Focus on the facts. Put emotions aside. Take notes while the customer explains the issue. Write down names, dates, times and locations, avoid opinions. Taking notes shows customers you are taking what they are saying seriously. Repeat back what you heard and wrote down in clear, positive language. It lets customers know you understand the issue.
- Offer a range of options. Most customer-facing employees have heard the same complaint before. As such, they should have a range of solutions to resolve the complaint. Offer those solutions as options to the customer. This gives customers more influence in correcting the situation and a greater personal stake in the outcome. It empowers your employees to be problem-solvers. After offering a solution, follow-up carefully to make sure it worked.
Training tip: Ask CSRs to give an example of successfully defusing an upset customer. How did it work out? What might they have done differently in hindsight to prevent the problem from developing in the first place? Try role-playing a situation you might face in your industry.
Problems can actually present opportunities to increase customer loyalty.
Customers who’ve had issues resolved to their satisfaction are more loyal that those who’ve had no issues. A such, salespeople should treat every problem as an opportunity to increase customer loyalty.
- Use a personal touch. Whether it’s a note, a visit or a small gesture that makes customers feel special, respondents can add a lot to a verbal apology.
- Cover all bases. After resolving a problem, the person solving the problem should pass the details on to the sales manager, a service rep or a company executive who can also make a follow-up call to ensure the customer was ultimately satisfied.
- Get customers involved in the permanent solution. The key is listening and letting customers describe their ideal solution without rushing to judgment. When someone takes feedback and develops a long-term solution, it sends customers a clear message: “Your business is important to us and we value this relationship.”
What suggestions do you have for turning a disgruntled customer into a satisfied customer?