"A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets."
--- Steve Jobs
We've all heard it said that the easiest customers to get are the ones you already have. That means that treating our current clients with respect and dealing honestly and openly with them. It also means that handling customer complaints swiftly and with a spirit of thankfulness and generosity toward customers that bring issues to our attention will go a long way toward keeping customers for life.
It does get difficult though when we feel like we are doing all we can to please a customer and still get an earful of complaining from them. Agreed, there are times when we must fire a customer, but those are rare. Most often we need to change the way we respond to our customers when they present an issue of concern to us. There are three things we can begin to do now to keep current customers happy and turn unhappy ones into loyal patrons again.
"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."
--- Bill Gates
First, receive each and every customer complaint as a gift. Look at these complaints as a way to change a particular form of service or a product in order to make it better for all customers. Accept a complaint as if some business guru is giving you great advice on how to become more profitable in your business.
"Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business."
--- Zig Ziglar
Next, make your complaining customers an example for your team to learn from and use the experience as a teachable moment. Post a picture of the complaining customer in your meeting area and refer to that person's complaint in each and every meeting as a way to get across the urgency for correcting the issue. Be sure to communicate that although the problem might not belong completely to the company, the company will take full responsibility for it.
"If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful."
--- Jeff Bezos
Finally, communicate to the complaining customer that your main concern is to make him or her happy with the business. Be sincere and let the customer know about the above steps you've taken (minus the picture of him or her) and that you and your team will not rest until the issue is resolved.
The process will take time, it will cost money, but it will be worth it. Your reputation and the reputation of your business depends on you taking action and correcting whatever needs correcting---- even to the extreme of it not even being your fault.
"Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships."
--- Ross Perot
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