Some business owners prefer to deal with problem customers by writing them off and shoving them out the door.
They don’t want or need to be bothered with further dealings or more headaches.
I think there is a better way, however, to attempt to appease and “soften” an irate customer.
Why not turn him 180 degrees around and convert him into one of your most loyal and valued customers?
You won’t be 100 per cent successful with this strategy, but it will work often enough that you will soon understand the benefit to your business of this approach.
Why is it worth the effort?
Your business can use just as many loyal and vocal salesmen as you can find.
There is no better testimonial for your business than one given by a customer that had a problem that you quickly solved, and now he is overjoyed with the outcome.
Prospects that aren’t quite sure if they can trust you, love to hear the experiences of others in getting their money back, or having a problem solved – it makes them feel like they have a recourse if they should spend their money and also experience a problem. It reduces the “risk” that prospects may feel about giving you their hard earned money.
Most customers that become irate for one reason or another (it really doesn’t matter why, for this discussion) are the same personality types that will go out of their way to be just as vocal and evangelistic about something that they like.
If you can turn angry people around, they often become great supporters.
They have the passion to tell others about their personal experience, both good and bad, and they’re not afraid to voice their opinions to everyone that cares to listen.
So, how do you turn bad customer situations into positive outcomes?
Usually the first thing you do is keep quiet and listen. Give the customer time to vent his frustration.
Don’t get defensive – if you do, you’ll find yourself taking sides against the customer.
Instead, you should attempt to side with him even if you don’t agree with his case.
By letting the customer blow off steam, and showing that you’re willing to listen and make his problem your concern and a top priority as well as his, you break down the adversarial relationship barrier that difficult customers like to throw up.
You take the side of the customer and become a friend in trying to find a solution.
Yes, it sometimes requires lots of patience and swallowing your pride even though you feel the customer has no legitimate complaint.
By moving the encounter from a highly emotional, combative, “you against me” confrontation . . . to a more civil and reasonable “let’s work together to find a solution” approach, you bring a sense of fair play and rationality to the discussion and disarm the chance for escalation.
Responses like “I would be upset too, if that happened to me!” or “Bob, I will do everything I can to get to the bottom of this right now!” will help to place you on the same side as the customer because you are telling him that you feel his pain and you will join him in his quest to find a solution.
Offer to help the customer in the mean time . . . not by bribing him with a freebie or a discount, but by asking him what you can do to make the situation right.
Find out what will make him happy.
It may just be that the customer is looking for a way to vent his frustration so all he really wants is someone to listen to him for a while.
Maybe he is just looking for information. He simply wants to have someone explain to him why he was charged $10 for shipping when he assumed he was getting a product sent without further cost.
Above all, as the business owner, you need to follow up with the complaint and find an acceptable solution.
Do it as quickly as possible. Get back to the customer, even by phone if you can, and let him know that you have personally taken care of his concern.
Leave him with your phone number and tell him to call you and let you know personally how your solution is working.
People like to be treated personally, as a trusted friend, rather than a name, an email address or a statistic.
If you treat all your customers as such, your business will soon gain a very valuable reputation as being customer friendly.
People will give you their trust and confidence as long as you treat them just the same as you would a good friend.
Try it out the next time you have a customer problem and let me know what happened.
To your online business success,