You know that I am passionate about good customer relations, any of my clients will confirm that fact, and I fervently believe that the focus of all modern management thinking and strategic business practice has to be the customer.
Common sense suggests that keep your customers happy and your sales will continue to soar – neglect them or take them for granted and your bottom line will suffer accordingly.
But we must expect and welcome complaints, so my advice is that to respond to a customer who has aÂ legitimate complaint you must keep these seven rules firmly in mind.
Listen with understanding & sympathy. This diffuses anger and demonstrates your concern. Tell the customer something such as “I am sorry you have been inconvenienced. Tell me what happened so that I can help youâ€ It is vital to show a sincere interest and willingness to help. The customer’s first impression of you is all important in gaining co-operation.
No matter what or who caused the problem, never, ever blame or make excuses. Instead, take full responsibility and the initiative to do whatever you can to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Paraphrase and record what the customer tells you. Whenever you hear an important point say “let me make sure I understand; you were promised delivery on the 10th and you did not receive the product until the 1st of the following month. Is that correct?â€
Find out what the customer wants. Do they want a refund, credit, discount, or replacement? The customer is complaining because he/she has a problem and wants it solved as quickly as possible. Find out what their problem is so you can work towards it and not towards a solution they do not want.
Propose a solution and gain the customerâ€™s support. When the customer tells you what he or she wants the solution is usually obvious. State your solution in a positive manner. “I will be happy to give you a full credit for it or other merchandise. Is that acceptable for you?â€ If it is acceptable, act promptly.
If the customer does not like your solution, ask what they would consider a fair alternative. Never let a customer lose face. If you cannot meet their request, say so, but never say they are wrong, and never get into an argument with a customer. It is vital to be considerate of the customerâ€™s feelings and to be courteous. Sometimes the customer knows full well that there is nothing you can do. All the customer really wants is someone to hear and respect his or her point of view, and you can always give them that.
I know this should be obvious, but donâ€™t tell the customer what you cannot do, only focus on what can be done
Do remember that, a customerâ€™s loyalty is only as strong as the success of their last contact with you and you know, if you make it better, that complaining customer could become a strong advocate.
News: Two excellent new interviews for your enjoyment: Over at Top Sales World I am in conversation with Colleen Francis – “How to Differentiate Yourself” and on Top Sales Management, my guest is Dave Kurlan – “Are Your Salespeople Still Cold-Calling?- The Ugly Truth”
As this year’s Top Sales & Marketing Awards get closer and closer, you now have the opportunity to nominate all of your favorites HERE
Finally, tomorrow I will be discussing the FIVE significant challenges facing every company, everywhere in 2013, so do be sure to make it back …