Coping With Unsatisfied Customers






Unsatisfied customers are an inevitable consequence of
doing business and you will run into them no matter how
committed you are to seeing them all happy. There will be
times when that customer is justified in being upset while
there will be others where the situation was entirely out
of your control. Strategies do exist where you can diffuse
a situation and help a customer feel better and perhaps
even turn them into a repeat buyer. In the beginning,
every business owner is certain that they must retain every
single customer they can but this is not an excuse to allow
the business to become a veritable doormat for customers to
kick around when they feel like it.

Written Policies and Sales Agreements

Before you even open up your door, take the time to set
out in writing your policies on returns or refunds and be
sure to place them in a place where customers can see them.
If possible, try to include this same information on
receipts or sales agreements. That way, there is no doubt
about the terms of sale within your business.

Communicate in Calm Voice

Never lose your calm! Customers will get irate from time
to time but it is your duty and that of your employees to
handle that irritated customer in a calm and collected
fashion. Show the customer that you care even when there
is little or nothing that can be done to alleviate the
situation. You will want to keep the energy level low key
in an effort to diffuse a potentially volatile situation
and prevent matters from spinning out of control. Do not
be confrontational with the customer and use tact when
speaking. Remember to stick to the facts and do not lose
your dignity no matter what the customer may say. Your
calm demeanor may very well rub off on your irritated
customer.

Use Empathy

Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with the unhappy
customer. It simply means that you let the customer know
that you understand they are upset and you want to calmly
find out all information so that you can best resolve the
situation. By showing that you care about them and about
their feelings, the situation will remain calm rather than
escalating into angry words. Just stating, “I’m sorry
that you are having a bad experience,” can often diffuse a
volatile situation.

Find the Problem

You must identify the true nature of the problem so will
have to ask the customer some questions in order to do
this. Is it a question of a wrong product or did they find
the same thing somewhere else for less money? Resolution
of any problem is only possible when you have a clear
understanding of its underlying cause. Once they have told
you what the problem is, repeat that back to them in your
own words so that you are sure you know what has caused the
situation.

Find Potential Solutions

If the problem has potential solutions that you can actually
offer, relay these solutions to the customer in a calm
manner. Maybe the product can simply be returned for a
refund or even replaced. You may be able to upgrade to
a better product and simply charge the difference in price.
Any solutions that you are able to offer, do so in a very
calm and rational manner. [Editor’s note: I suggest asking the customer what she or he would like you to do, in a non-defensive manner. Often, what will make them happy is less than you might have offered. If you throw in the “something extra” you were prepared to give all along, you may have a cusomter for life.]

If, however, a potential solution
is not possible because of a posted policy, then
respectfully direct the customer’s attention to that posted
policy. A written policy is good to have because it may
help avoid an instance where the customer turns from
unhappy to irate. But, if the customer is still not happy,
keep the tones low and your demeanor calm. [Better yet, says your editor, deal with the human being and not the polcy.]

Certain People Just Will Not Be Happy

You must accept that despite all of your best efforts to
the contrary, some customers will never be happy. All
start-up companies run into these irate customers from time
to time and nothing you can do will please them. If you
have exhausted all possible optionsand the customer remains hostile and unhappy, you
accept that this probably will not be one
of your repeat customers.

It is important not to let one bad experience get your
spirits down. So long as you are running a reputable
enterprise, you will be able to attract new customers that
will more than compensate for the few who get away. It is
never a good thing to lose a customer, but sometimes those
losses help you to concentrate on growth, mentoring, and
even support. Training new employees with the skills they
need for conflict resolution is necessary for all start-up
companies because sooner or later that unhappy customer
will come walking through the door.

Visit Ken Bidgood’s website at Advertising XP,
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