Angry customers are a fact of life. After all, everybody makes mistakes. Your job is to make up for those mistakes—no matter who makes them— and to salvage your company’s relationship with the customer.
Most of us have heard the statistics on the importance of customer retention. Acquiring a new customer costs 5-10 times the cost of retaining one customer. Repeat customers spend, on average, 67% more. After 10 transactions with your business, a customer has referred as many as seven people.
Handled improperly, angry customers will abandon your business forever…and they will tell their friends to stay away, too. But if handled properly, angry customers can become your best customers.
Here is a strategy for dealing with angry customers.
• Ask, don’t tell, when talking to an angry customer.
The more you say, “That’s against our policy” or “We can’t do that,” the more you invite an argument. It’s better to ask questions like “Could you clarify the problem for me?” or “What can we do to make this right?”
• Take positive action when customers complain.
Like: Refund their money, apologize, and give them a “gift” or commit to solving the problem within 24 hours. Take responsibility by saying, “Let me suggest how I can help,” or “I need more information so I can fix this.”
• Apply the two-person rule.
While it’s best to empower customer service representatives to resolve customer complaints, when you are the second person to talk to an irate customer, take charge of the problem and solve it. Don’t shuffle the customer off to a third person.
• Once you solve a problem, remember to document your action in the customer’s file in your POS system. That will alert you and your staff to give this customer special treatment next time.
A SECOND-CHANCE TACTIC THAT WORKS
If a customer is upset because of a perceived failing on your part to properly remedy a problem, although you may feel that you did your best, you still want to satisfy the customer— if you can.
To make sure you understand how to fix the problem and satisfy the customer, ask questions that lead to a foolproof solution.
Example: What if we refund your money, reclean the garment, and package it just the way you want? Would that solve the problem?
Then add in checkpoints to gauge and ensure satisfaction. “Let me do that for you, then I would like to check back with you to make sure that everything is the way you want it to be.”
Why it works: This approach demonstrates your willingness to satisfy the customer. And you protect yourself by making sure that your proposed solution will satisfy the customer before you invest time into it.
Adapted from the book How to Talk So People Will Listen, by Sonya Hamlin.
This article is from DLI Bulletin – Management Matters, No. 12.