Sometimes you just want to hang up.
Unhappy customers are part of running a small business. No matter how pleasant your personality or your service delivery someone will eventually criticize your product, staff, packaging, or even your response to their complaint. So how do you respond to unhappy customers in your small business?
Part of you might want to tell the customer to take a hike. After all, you have other customers, right? However, that strategy will only lead to a damaged reputation, lost revenue, and you could invite a nasty online review about your business. Even though an unhappy customer creates an unpleasant situation, I recommend these strategies to turn resolve customer complaints.
Force Yourself to Listen
Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Today I hope I get screamed at by an irate customer.” However, it might happen, and you must be ready for it. The key is to be patience and endure it.
Unhappy customers need to vent. They feel they’ve been wronged, and if you interrupt them, you’ll only anger them further. Instead of shutting down the tirade, practice active listening. Take in everything they say and try to separate the words from the context.
While you shouldn’t talk over an angry customer, you should wait for a break in his or her explanation to ask questions. Clarify any details that you don’t understand so you get the full picture. It’s also helpful to grab a pad and pen to take notes. Let the customer know that you want to get his or her complaint exactly right.
Asking questions can also help you find a resolution. You might say, “I understand that you’re unhappy with the quality of the product. Is there anything we can do to win back your trust?”
This puts the ball in your customer’s court. It’s okay if he or she doesn’t have a response, but the customer might take the weight off your shoulders by describing exactly what will rectify the problem.
Honest Feedback is Gift
Unhappy customers often exaggerate their emotions and use abusive language to get their point across. Even if the customer uses colorful language, don’t go there. Try to get clear on the source of their rage. Find out what exactly happened to cause this reaction?
After you’ve heard out your customer, try to forget about the abusive language, by putting yourself in their shoes. You’ll only make yourself angry by dwelling on it. Instead, focus on the root of the problem so that you can find a solution. So that you can learn something to help you run better. Often things like this can lead to better staff training. After all, honest feedback is a gift.
Resolve the Problem
Here’s where you have to be the boss. If the customer makes a reasonable request, just say yes. Even if it’s hard, just say yes. People will forget what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. You can’t please everyone and sometimes, you have to give up. But that’s not my philosophy. I believe you should never let a customer down.
You can resolve any customer service issue with the right language and attitude. It is awesome when you can turn an angry customer into a loyal ambassador for your brand, follow some of the strategies I’ve used successfully in my business:
- Express gratitude for the customer’s business. People love to feel appreciated.
- Go above and beyond the customer’s expectations. Don’t just solve the problem. Give them more than they asked for, refund their money and offer FREE coupons for a return visit.
- Never lose your smile. Staying pleasant is powerful. Pretend you’re talking to a thrilled client instead of a disappointed one.
- Work quickly. Don’t make your customer wait for a resolution. Empower your employees to resolve issues up to $500.00, without calling a manager for approval.
If you make customer happiness your top priority, your customers will come back again and again. Sometimes the customer really isn’t right. But, if you want to stay in business, I think it’s essential to know how to work with all types of people — even the unreasonable ones. Now that you’re prepared to tackle unhappy customers, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter. You won’t want to miss the other tips and tricks I share with entrepreneurs just like you.