Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ideas to Grow - How To Save an Unhappy Customer

I would like to think that we do this more often that not.

Actually I would like to think that there are not many times when we make you unhappy.

How To Save An Unhappy Customer

This is a title that is bound to get the attention of any and every small business owner.

Each customer we have is such a precious commodity and we want all of them to leave our business with a smile on their face.

But, every business occasionally makes a mistake that results in a very unhappy customer. 

How do you take an angry customer, who heatedly tells you they will never do business with you again and turn them into a repeat customer who says you're the best business they ever dealt with? 

We have a Franchisee in our system, who talks about their good friend, who owns and operates two McDonald's Restaurants, and seeing them do this time and again, over the many years that they have known him. 

They had the opportunity to admire these skills, many times over the years, and wanted to to grow up to be just like him, in matters of customer relations, but never had a "system" to do this.... until now.

Having a plan and the time to think it through in advance, is what I need to be successful in pretty much anything. So, when I found an article that spoke to this skill, I thought I would share. 

Author and sales consultant John Tschohl calls it "service recovery". He says this effective tool can instantly change an angry client into a loyal customer. 

The key to putting a smile on a costumer's face after you have made a mistake is to ..... solve the customer's problem in 60 seconds or less. 

Here are the steps you need to remember and/or teach -

  • Act Quickly. The employee at the point of contact is in the best position to implement an effective solution. The customer who's issue is immediately dealt with will always walk away happy. Avoid moving problems and complaints up the chain of command.
  • Take Responsibility. Offer a sincere apology and take responsibility, no matter who is at fault. Don't place blame, offer excuses or point out the customers misunderstanding. Thank the customer for pointing out the problem.
  • Let the Customer Know that You Can Help. All employees in your organization who come in contact with customers must be empowered to act. The customer who receives immediate help from their first employee contact will feel well served. The customer who must wait until the issue can be taken up with a manager will remain upset and angry.
  • Compensate Immediately. Fix the problem, but add something of value to compensate for the customer's inconvenience. Make the compensation something that will not cost you too much, but will mean a lot in the customer's eyes. Set aside six or eight products or services with a high perceived value that can be given away as compensation. 

By using service recovery techniques and empowering every employee to respond immediately to customer complaints, you can instantly create a client who will be both happy and loyal. 

Those once unhappy customers, will now tell others how well they were treated, and will remember the exceptional service they received, far longer than the error that triggered it. 

If you are worried about what your employees might do to make a customer happy.... don't.
For a brief time, another of our Franchisee's had a part-time job with the The Container Store. 
  • In a nutshell, there philosophy is that there is absolutely nothing that an employee could do for customer that wasn't ok. 
  • In the year and half that they worked there, they didn't see a single instance of management being unhappy with the action(s) an employee took on behalf of the customer. 
  • They did see numerous instances of the employees asking good questions of both customer and business, so that they could take appropriate action that was meaningful and helpful for the customer.
  • Most importantly, they were asking those question now to fix the customer's problem now. Not asking what they should have done, after an angry customer had left the building.
Another of our Franchisees has son, who is an Assistant Manager with Costco, and tells them his biggest battle in this area is not an overly generous employee. But rather, getting his employees to use the empowerment that he has given them.

So, try this, the next time an unhappy customer comes to you, start with the words " ... we're going to take care of this right now ... I am willing to bet that you will see an immediate change in their demeanor.

Once you are convinced, grant the necessary empowerment to your employees to do the same thing.

Then provide them the training they need to take care of the interests of both the customer and your business.

You can use the steps above as your training outline and can refer to our post titled "Teach Anything ... In Just 4 Steps" for the methodology to get that training done.

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