When you are starting a business of your own, your time and energy are pulled in many different directions. It can be too easy to drop the ball when dealing with customers between scheduling, balancing the books, and planning out your vision for the future.
Your customers…. your lifeblood
You may think that a few complaint emails from unhappy customers are no big deal, but the reality is that your customers are the lifeblood of your business. When it comes down to numbers, customer reviews and word-of-mouth advertising can make or break your business, particularly with the advent of social media.
In order to create a business that not only stays afloat, but thrives, you'll need to ensure that every customer interaction is conducted with utmost integrity. Communication, order fulfillment, and follow-up surveys must all be in place in order to retain customer loyalty. Focusing on this critical aspect of your business will be a crucial factor determining the success level you'll have long term.
Unhappy customers spell trouble!
So, you've screwed up, and a couple of orders were late, or items arrived damaged or compromised in some way. With a bit of coaxing, most people will allow you to make amends and remain loyal to your business, particularly if your products and services are superior to others. However, there are times when no amount of keester-kissing will bring someone back from negative spewing on social media. What will you do if you find yourself with an unhappy customer, and how can you do damage control to minimize the spread of harmful rumors that could impact your business?
Steps for relationship repair
Winning back an unhappy population isn't necessarily easy, but it's worth every minute you devote to relationship repair. The next time you find yourself the unfortunate recipient of a nasty gram or a social media spew, take these steps to rebuild and rebrand:
Listen! Often, there is an underlying cause of extreme dissatisfaction. It may have nothing to do with your failed attempts to make your customer happy; it may have to do with past disappointment and experience with others that are coloring their perception of you. As you open up lines of communication between you and your customer, listen. Really listen, and instead of making excuses about what did or didn't happen, show them that their satisfaction is important to you by taking the time to hear their concerns. Only when they feel heard and respected will they be able to work with you to find a resolution to their problem that perhaps only you can fill.
Identify the issue. We've all been disappointed at one time or another by a product or service that was not what we expected. You can identify with your customer by taking the viewpoint of a disgruntled customer yourself. What would you want? How would you expect the situation to be handled? Looking at the problem from the customer's perspective should motivate you to make the situation right.
Find a solution that works for everyone. Many customers will be so focused on their own disappointment and anger that they fail to think about solutions that might work for them. This is where you come in. After listening and apologizing for the misunderstanding, it will be essential to offer solutions to the problem that work for you and your customer. Be ready with some suggestions, and ask the customer if they have thought about how they want to be compensated. If their requests are within reason, complete them! If not, communicate clearly what you will and will not do to solve the problem, and stay calm during this negotiation process. Ninety percent of customers will find some common ground and a solution that both of you can work with. The other ten percent will need humble apologies, and know that you may not reach everyone through this process; some customers just want to complain. Wish them well and send them positive thoughts, but do not break contact with them; they may come around in due time.
Take care of the issue immediately. Your word is your bond, your stellar reputation, and your future success. If you promise a customer that you will correct the issue, DO IT! Send out that replacement product immediately, issue a refund, gift additional products and services--do whatever is necessary to correct the issue and restore peace to your commercial relationship. You'll be much more likely to repair that relationship than if you delay your response or argue about what is right and reasonable.
Correct your internal flaw. Find out where the error occurred, and take steps to ensure that the same mistake doesn't happen twice. If your customers have additional peace of mind that you've corrected your business practices to provide efficient service, they will be much more likely to return to you in the future. Find out what went wrong, and take steps to stop it from happening again.
The customer is frequently right
Repairing relationships with customers is critical to your success, but there are times when the inappropriate or slanderous behavior of a customer is not warranted. Do your part to diffuse any misunderstandings and work with the customer from a person-to-person perspective. We all just want our needs met, don't we? People make mistakes, and offering each other a bit of compassion and understanding will go a long way toward relationship repair.
MaxGroup Business Solutions: Masters at building relationships
At MaxGroup Business Solutions, we are not only in the business of business, we are into relationship cultivation as well! We know that business/client relationships are at the core of any successful business, and we walk our talk when it comes to getting things done for you. If you want an extra dose of confidence for those hard-to-handle customers, we've got solutions that will work for you and your business. Contact us today for some stellar interpersonal strategies that will help take your business to the next level. Contact www.maxgroupbusiness.com for more information.