I saw a sign in front of a business centre one day that read, “Dissatisfied with our service? Please let us know. Satisfied with our service? Kindly tell others”. That got me thinking. Different customers have different ways of reacting when they are unsatisfied with your business. Some will walk away without saying a word, and will never return.

Some on the other hand will tell you what’s wrong, but will do so nicely. However, there are equally the irate customers. They are unsatisfied about a product or service too. However, they won’t mind creating a scene so far as they vent their anger. Most times, their concerns are genuine. But even when they are not, they still need an outlet for their anger. They will disrupt things for you, and probably scare your customers. They like drawing attention and could even inflict physical damage to you, your staff or your customers. I have had my share of these types of customers. From my experience, these secrets are time proven to help you deal with them, and turn them to your most loyal customers.

1. Let Your Attitude Be Positive.
I know you must have been having a hectic day. The last thing you need now is someone shouting at you and threatening you with fire and brimstone. However, irrespective of how you feel, remember that the customer is the king. They are the reason you have a business in the first place. So please, smile. Yes, smile and look at him/her with an attitude that says something like, “I want to help you. Don’t worry, together we will find a solution to your problem” Say it if you can. If you can’t however, let the customer hear it through your attitude. It will make them want to open up and seek solutions.

2. Listen Empathetically Don’t try to jump into conclusions.
Even if you know what the problem is, pretend you don’t. Most times, all an irate customer wants is someone to talk to. Be that person for that moment. Listen to their concerns. Be their friend. Put yourself in their shoes, and show some understanding. And when they are done talking, validate their feelings. Say something like this, “Thank you for sharing your concerns. I understand how you feel. I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes”. That will definitely take the fight out of the dog.

3. Take Responsibility
Don’t try to make excuses for yourself or your business. Remember that the purpose of this customer many times is just to prove that you are wrong. Help him achieve it quickly so you guys can move on to something else. If the service rendered was bad, accept full responsibility for it and apologize. Don’t try to blame the weather, the government or his dumbness. No, it is your fault and yours alone. Remember that apologizing doesn’t exactly mean “I am wrong, you are right”, it could just mean, “I am sorry you feel that way”. That way, everybody wins.

4. Communicate Your Action Plan Effectively.
Now that you have heard the concerns and you have handled the situation, you must have to quickly communicate an action plan. But don’t just say, “Okay Mr Ken, we will look into it”. That won’t work. Let him know what you plan to do to help him solve his problem. But be careful not to promise what you cannot do. If you have to, refer him to the appropriate person that can solve his problem.

5. Take Action Promptly.
My card once got stuck in an automated telling machine one day. I went inside the bank and complained to the Operations Manager. He fed me the classic line, “We will do something about it. Just check back tomorrow”. Then he continued typing on his computer. Did that satisfy me? Absolutely not! I went from one staff to the other until I found someone who actually took some practical steps to get back my card. Though I still had to return the next day, I left satisfied. In the same vein, don’t just promise. Start doing something about your customer’s problem right there in his presence. That will satisfy him enough to trust that you will deliver what you promised. That’s the keyword: Trust. A trusting customer is a loyal customer.

6. Ask for the Business.
Lastly, don’t just assume that everything is fine with your business relationship. Ask for the business again. It could be something as simple as, “Thanks for taking time to share your dissatisfaction Mr Ken. We look forward to your continued patronage”. This will make the customer know that his business is valued and is not just one of the statistics given during a report. There is no more effective way of advertising than from the words of a satisfied customer. And there is equally no better way of driving away customers than from the words of an unsatisfied customer. In essence, customers are the life of any business. A satisfied customer will become a loyal one. And loyal customers ensure that the business lives on.

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