The key to a successful business is customer service. While all employees who deal with the public strive to be considerate, conscientious and customer friendly, there are still going to be those few people that despite your best efforts are still dissatisfied to some degree with their shopping experience. What do you do?
One of the most important guidelines of business is to never let a customer walk away dissatisfied. It is a statistical truth that word of mouth will hurt a business more than anything else ever could. Under no circumstances is it ever beneficial to a business to allow a customer to walk away angry or unhappy. A satisfied customer will on average tell five people about their experience with a business. A dissatisfied customer will tell everyone they know. This has an unconscious impact on the decision of the people being told as to whether or not they are going to use that business. Given a choice, customers will not choose a business they have heard bad things about. It happens more often than business owners would like to think.
The number one rule to remember in a business situation is that the customer is ALWAYS right. The consumer is the butter on the bread that makes the economical world go round. It is essential to remember that every single patron that walks through a business’s door or contacts a business by phone is a repeat customer. Don’t just aim for that one great sale, aim for return business. Return sales are the number one source of income for most business owners. One way to do this is to be personable as well as professional.
Many people will say that a personable representative of a company will make them return to a business, even if the first experience was not as satisfactory as they would have liked. Always be considerate of the customers feelings. When business representatives get into a rush and are trying to complete many tasks at once, they must remember to slow down, take your time, and think through every contact they have with a customer. Being rushed and short with a customer relationship makes the customer feels cheated, like not enough time was spent taking care of them and it feels impersonal. It doesn’t hurt to strike up a small conversation with a patron if they are waiting for a service to be performed. No one likes to wait, this eases the tension of waiting and helps the time go by faster, it also opens the door to additional sales as it provides the opportunity to make the consumer aware of multiple services.
Try to satisfy customers requests. A request may seem unreasonable at the time, but it may be a condition of patron-ship to the customer. Many times representatives fail to see things from the customers point of view. This is one thing business owners and representatives must strive to do. People will always pay for quality over quantity. If they feel the service is worth the price they are more likely to be repeat customers.
Now what to do in the worst case scenario, a customer is angry and all best appeasement efforts seem to have gone right out the window. Here are some helpful ideas to try to defuse the situation.
First, get to the exact root of the issue. Listen attentively and respectfully. Eye contact is very important as the customer will be aware of it and know that their complaint is getting genuine attention. If over the phone, ask the customer to explain the entire experience, even if it takes an hour. Do not interrupt, be polite, always use an even tone of voice, and listen for pauses in the conversation to try to converse with the patron. Apologize for their inconvenience or perceived slight, but DO NOT say “I’m sorry”, this puts the entire blame on the business or its representatives. Remember that handling customer issues is a touchy situation.
Having gotten to the root of the problem, try to find a way to correct it. Ask the customer frankly and sincerely how they feel the issue should be resolved, what actions would satisfy them. Never, never argue with them, even if they seem to be the most unreasonable person on the planet. Be truthful with them as well, if they have a request that just cannot be fulfill, tell them. On the same token offer them an alternative. Try sharing a similar experience with them. This makes the customer feel sympathized with. Making them feel as if their experience is shared with someone and they are not alone in their angst helps alleviate feelings of being slighted.
Lastly, resolve the matter as closely as possible as the customer feels it should be. Of course business owners or representatives cannot grant unreasonable requests such as an expensive service being provided for free or firing an employee on the spot. But certainly if a reasonable solution is presented such as the customer requesting a discount on this or future services, or the replacement of a material item by all means this should be considered. Losing a few dollars to win a customer over always has a positive impact on a businesses bottom line in the long-run. One caution point to keep in mind, don’t offer a discount unless the customer asks for one. This often makes the customer even more upset and offended because they are being treated as if just trying to get something for free and their actual complaint isn’t being taken seriously. If business owners follow the golden rule “treat others as you would be treated”, they should never have to turn an angry customer away.