Large corporations and small businesses are operated by people and people makes mistakes. The mistakes your employees or you make can cause a great deal of annoyance and inconvenience for your customers. We all know the old adage “the customer is always right”. It isn’t really true, but the sentiment behind it is. If you’ve made a customer unhappy, don’t fret. You can fix the situation through this 5-step plan for repairing the broken relationship between your company and a dissatisfied customer:
1. React quickly. DON’T act like a politician and deny or wait. The longer you wait, the less heard your customer feels and the more time they have to become angry. By denying the error, you risk looking foolish and completely alienating the customer.
2. Often people are not really to blame for the mistake. Often it is a process issue so don’t immediately blame an employee. Thoroughly investigate the incident and give people the benefit of the doubt. Learn from the situation so you don’t lose an opportunity to improve a system or for everyone to improve in their roles, including you.
3. Throughout the investigation process, keep in touch with your customer. Let them know what’s going on as you try to resolve the issue. Silence during this time can make things much worse.
4. Make a true attempt at solving the problem or making things right. Ask the customer what they need to be satisfied again. Is it a refund, a replacement, an apology?
5. Don’t drop the ball after things are resolved. Touch base with the customer after a week or so to make sure they are satisfied with the outcome. Don’t lose this opportunity to let them know you value their business.
Sit down with your employees after the error is resolved to discuss the issues that caused the problem. What can you fix going forward to ensure it doesn’t happen again? Keep a copy of this process in your training manuals so everyone knows, in advance, what to do when a customer has been wronged (or perceives that they have).
Often, the opportunity to repair a problem builds stronger customer loyalty than if they had not encountered a problem at all. They get the opportunity to see how your customer service really works. They also get personalized service that they might not have ever needed before. You, on the other hand, get to see where improvements can be made. All of this can lead to increased rapport and stronger word-of-mouth promotion!
About the Author:
Steve Schlagel is a CPA, CVA, CFP and attorney with over 30 years experience providing small business owners coaching, training and consulting services. Steve understands business, wealth creation, and building successful and valuable enterprises. Visithttp://www.small-business-how-to.com for a community of other small business owners and answers to your most common “How do I?” small business questions.