Every business owner worth their salt knows the value of a happy customer. The saying “the customer is always right” is often misunderstood – it doesn’t mean that customers can get away with saying and doing anything. What it means is that if your customers tell you you’re doing something wrong, you are doing something wrong. Their complaints aren’t made because they are bored – they see things that you are missing. Most business owners go out of their way to make customers as happy as possible, because happy customers are repeat customers.
But as every entrepreneur knows, even the best customer service can slip up at some point. Whether it’s your fault or not is irrelevant – the customer is angry at you, and you need to come up with a solution. How you handle these stumbles will frequently determine how well you perform in relation to your competitors. Some companies treat these customers as though they are a distraction – this is a sure-fire way to lose their business. Others apologise but don’t take any meaningful steps to make things right – this will result in customers feeling as though their concerns are not being taken seriously.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of poor customer reviews and sluggish business, it might be time to re-evaluate the way you treat your customers when they receive less-than-stellar service. The following tips are frequently employed by successful business owners who understand how to turn unpleasant moments into memorable ones for their customers.
1) Adapt to your customers
Every person reacts differently to an unexpected setback. Some customers get angry and demand immediate action, while others are more passive and don’t express their disapproval as vocally. Being able to read your customers’ body language is as important as listening to the words they use and how they say them; a customer may tell you that everything is fine, when their tone of voice and facial expression conveys clear dissatisfaction. Other times, the customer just wants to be heard and validated. Listening to them talk without interjecting may prove to be cathartic, calming them down and putting them in a more rational state of mind.
Knowing how to read and respond to the different kinds of customers you have will go a long way towards finding what makes them happy.
2) Show empathy
We get it: having to listen to somebody complain isn’t something you want to do. But for nearly all dissatisfied customers who complain, they want somebody who understands their perspective and cares about what they feel. Listen to them, and use phrases that reflect that you understand how they feel. A great way to do that is to relate to their grievance with one you once experienced. Creating that human connection will prove to your customer that you see them as more than just an angry face. Those emotional connections will prove to be powerful an enduring, and it will go a very long ways towards securing them as repeat customers.
3) Accept responsibility and make things right
It’s not uncommon for business owners to try and justify why something went wrong – this is especially true if the error stems from something they did. If a customer doesn’t get what they ordered, don’t blame the employee who made it – apologise and accept responsibility. If a customer notes that they are overcharged for something, don’t blame the system or the person on the register- apologise and find a way to make things right. If your first instinct is to blame somebody else for what went wrong, that will leave a negative impression on you and your business as a whole.
The other part of this is that you need to find a way to make the customer happy. Whether you re-make their food item, give them a refund, offer them store credit, or even more, just remember that the cost of losing their business is likely going to be worse than the cost of making them happy. Don’t look at making things right as an expense – look at it as an investment. If you address their concerns in a way that makes them happy, you’ll recoup the cost again and again.