A recent post on the forum brought up a great point about handling customer situations. One of the members asked about the best way to handle a customer who isnâ€™t happy with your company.
First of all, it is great that a business owner is concerned that someone may not be happy. However, coming up with a set policy to address customer concerns may not be the best approach. Whether you deal with all of the customer concerns yourself or you have a staff, it is best to address each situation as it is raised.
I feel every situation should be handled based on the customer, the issue, and the impact to you and the customer. In my opinion, it is evident when a company has a cookie-cutter approach to customer service or employees are given a policy & procedure manual to address customer complaints. They seem inflexible and not sincere.
The best method is to listen thoroughly to the customers’ concerns. If it isnâ€™t clear how you did not meet their expectations â€“ ask. Let them know that their feedback is important to the success of your company and you want to know exactly how you did not live up to their standards. Many times listening and thanking them for the feedback is all that is needed. Not engaging in a conversation with the customer and simply giving them a coupon may not make them feel valued.
If a customer provides you with an opportunity to get feedback (whether or not you agree with what they are saying), this time is priceless. 90% of your unhappy customers would not give you that opportunity. They just would not come back again.
I also think it is critical to the success of a business to track all feedback, whether it comes as a complaint or a comment. It will help identify areas of your business that may need focus and improvement.
There was a recent conversation on the MompreneursOnline forum about the economy and how it is impacting our business. Since I have been in business for only a year, I am not sure if the slow down many of us our experiencing is due to the time of year or it is a reflection of the unstable economy. So keeping current customers is so important to maintaing our businesses.
There are things that I like to do to help build relationships with our customers. Women especially are very relationship oriented and look to make connections before choosing a company to do business. This definitely the case in my business.
Here are a few things that I do to help maintain my current customers and gain new ones:
Keep the lines of communication open: Be open to suggestions on how you can add or delete services or products. Showing you care about their satisfaction level speaks volumes about your commitment to them. If you havenâ€™t heard from them in a while, touch base to see how things are going.
Methods of Communication: It is best to not rely strictly on e-mail to communicate. Either call or visit. It brings that relationship to another level. Also a handwritten note shows you took time for them and is a welcome surprise when they open their mail.
Turning Bad into Good: So you mess up. Cease the opportunity to take the bad situation (which you canâ€™t change anyway) and show your customer you want to make it right. Address it immediately and go above and beyond to make sure everyone involved is satisfied.
We all love that feeling of connection. If we limit it to just our personal relationships, we are missing out on so much. Letting your customers know you care about them and their business will get you so far â€“ business wise as well as a personal feeling of gaining a new connection.
How a company handles a bad situation is the key to maintaining customers, which I experienced first hand this past weekend. Due to a death in my immediate family, I had to fly to San Antonio from TX. I searched high and low for a reasonable rate, which was a challenge when buying a ticket at the last minute. I finally found a ticket on American Airlines that had times that fit my schedule needs. That was a load off my mind â€“ at least temporarily.
Right after my purchase, the airline started pulling their MD 80â€™s out of service leaving a ripple affect across the country and horror stories being told on the news of upset customers, crammed airports, etc. A sinking feeling began to set in, but I was not leaving for a few days so I felt things had to work themselves out.
Long story short, they were still cancelling flights up to the day I left. However, what I experienced when I got to the Columbus, OH airport, Dallas and San Antonio was an airline that displayed calm and a great deal of class. The airline stepped up and were willing to place people on other airlines in the event they had hesitation to fly on an MD 80.
After the funeral, I got to the San Antonio airport early for my flight and was approached by a gate agent to see if I wanted to get on an earlier flight so I wouldnâ€™t have to rush to my connecting flight in Dallas.
I did not experience any employee pointing fingers at the FAA or blaming others. They took an unfortunate situation, dealt with it, and had made attempts to satisfy as many customers as they could under the circumstances. They took efforts to reduce the black eye that the airline industry was already dealing with up to this situation.
Hats off to you American Airlines for taking customer service to the next level despite a bad situation. Taking an unfortunate event can sometimes be a good thing for a company from a customer service perspective. It helps set you apart from your competitors by showing your customers your commitment to your customers.
From a customer service perspective, the past couple of weeks have almost sent me over the edge. Since this is my field, I realize I am a little more sensitive than the majority, but it still amazes me how business choose to approach their customers and how much some expect their customers to tolerate.
As more and more businesses are created, the one thing that sets everyone apart from their competitors is how they deal with their customers. Even if you have the best product or service, if you do not handle your customers with kid gloves, they wonâ€™t be back. One example is an airline that is based here in Columbus, OH. They have been challenged over the past month with a few service issues. They offer outstanding fares, but to help keep their costs low, they do not have a customer service department. However, all inquiries/issues need to be handled via e-mail. For me, I will be willing to pay a little more to make sure I get outstanding service.
Addressing a customer issue quickly and professionally is key to keeping them as a loyal customer. On Saturday, I received a delivery of brochures I desperately needed. I was so relieved that they arrived on time, but when I looked at them, they were a mess â€“ the printing was off centered and they could not be used. Their customer service department wasnâ€™t open, so I e-mailed them with my concern. I did not get a response until late Monday evening. However, it was not the response I expected. Their e-mail actually advised me they were too busy to respond and I should fill out the form once more and try again or call. After picking my chin up off my desk, I opted to call, which only raised my blood pressure because I was on hold for 45 minutes, to find myself being hung up on by the representative when she asked if she could put me on hold. Long story short (or shorter), it took 2 ? hours repeating my issue 5 times, being told it was my fault by 3 different representatives and 1 supervisor. I was finally connected to another supervisor who found the source of THEIR printing issue, advised me he fixed it and would send it out overnight delivery at their expense. FINALLY!!! But my take away from this experience is that this company takes their customers for granted and I wonâ€™t be doing business with them again.
My faith in customer service was revived today. I had a painting contractor come to my home to give me an estimate to paint the exterior of our home. The man came to the door, advised me he was going to walk our property and take pictures and would come back in when he was done. OK, I was bracing myself for the worst. The other bids we received didnâ€™t come with a photo album, so I had a feeling this was not going to be good. Well, he came back and made his presentation. Much to my surprise, it ended with, Mrs. Jaroscak, we will be more than happy to paint your home, but it is something that can really wait until next year. Wow – an honest company that actually turned down a $4,000 job. Again, I had to lift my chin off my desk, but for a positive reason this time. This company has now won me over as a customer. The other bids were lower, but with his presentation and honesty, he built a rapport with me.
Building a positive relationship with customers is what will keep them coming back. It is inevitable owning a business, we will all have negative situations that will arise â€“ it is unavoidable. But how we handle them with the customer may end up being more of a positive customer service experience for your customer than if the entire transaction went smoothly. It provides an opportunity for us to show a customer how much we value their business and our integrity. When a customer raises a concern, be prompt, be sincere, and create a resolution that everyone can walk away and be satisfied with the outcome.