Training Tuesday:Handling Unhappy Customers

Even the best company, with the best service, will occasionally make mistakes. What matters most is how you handle the situation when issues arise. Your response to a crisis or to your customer’s unhappiness can make or break your relationship with that customer.  Below are some of our top tips to best help a dissatisfied customer.

1. If there’s a crisis, make sure you inform the customer as soon as you can – they’re going to find out one way or another – and no news travels as swiftly as bad news. Contacting them first allows you the opportunity to set the tone and break the bad news in the most productive way possible. This also allows you to maintain control of the situation and offer ways that you’re already willing to help fix their issue.

2. Listen first, react second. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t fully understand it. Listening to the customer also makes them feel understood, and that you care for them. If your customer approaches you with a complaint, don’t interrupt. Don’t become defensive or make judgements until you’ve heard all the facts as the customer sees them. Take them seriously, even if it seems trivial to you, and try to empathize with them.

3. Apologize sincerely. A sincere apology will go a long way with most customers. A simple, but genuine apology can prove that you’ve really listened to them, and you understand how frustrating or upsetting the situation is for them, and you’re going to try to remedy it.

4. Find a way to fix their problem that also works for you and your company. There’s no point in playing the “blame game,” because the customer has already decided to blame you and your company, which means it’s time to take responsibility for the problem and solve it. Let your customer suggest solutions or alternatives. Find out their expectations for a solution and follow that if it is reasonable.

5. After resolving the initial situation make sure to follow up. You should always follow up with the customer to make sure that they are truly satisfied with your efforts and the resolution. It can also be nice to do a little something extra for your customer. It shows that you recognized that they were inconvenienced and you’re acknowledging that with something tangible.


An unhappycustomer may sink your success

One unhappy customer may not seem like much, but when one customer shares a complaint, it represents the tip of an iceberg.  According to a Washington, D.C. consulting group that conducts  customer satisfaction surveys, every customer who complains is speaking for many others who feel the same way but they don’t make the time to call.  Most customers don’t complain.  It’s a well-known fact that most customers who have a bad experience are simply too busy to call and to make a complaint.  They usually just stop doing business with you.  When you don’t know, or don’t realize, that you have an unsatisfied customer, you have a problem that gets worse when that unsatisfied customer shares their negative experience with others.  And, industry surveys prove that, even though they may not tell you how upset they were by your service, they will gladly tell others.  Knowing that a customer is unhappy gives you an opportunity to remedy the situation for that customer today and to head off problems with other customers in the future.