Every business owner who plans to stay in business for the long term tries to provide the best possible products and services to their customers. Satisfied customers are repeat customers – and a source of referral business.And while we may strive for perfection, the truth is we’re human. No one can be perfect – at least not all the time. Maybe you got sick, had a fight with your spouse, it was a full moon. It doesn’t matter. Sooner or later you’re going to drop the ball.
When that day comes, how you handle yourself can be the difference between a lost and angry customer, and a satisfied customer who becomes a walking testimonial.
What do I mean?
Think about your own life as a consumer. Over the years I’m sure there are many times you’ve had less than wonderful service or products that you weren’t satisfied with.
When you’ve complained, what was the response? Some companies try to justify what happened and hide behind policies and procedures. Or you can’t find the person who is responsible or has the authority to help you.
When you didn’t get satisfaction you left feeling frustrated and annoyed. Not only did you not go back to this store, you probably complained about it to anyone who would listen.
Now think about a time where you were unhappy with a product or service where they came through. Where they apologized and refunded your money, replaced the product or did something to make you happy about the situation.
I’ll bet you walked away feeling good about the situation and had warm feelings towards the company. In fact, I’ll be you told several people about what a good experience you had. In fact, I’ll bet you told more people than you would have had there been no problem to begin with.
When you mess up with a customer, don’t panic. And don’t try to make excuses or pass the buck. Just apologize – and mean it.
Next, find a way to make it right. Replace the product, redo the service, or find a different product or service that meets the needs of the customer. If you can’t fix it directly offer some type of compensation – money off on their next purchase, a free gift or even a free meal at a nice restaurant.
Granted, some people will never be satisfied no matter what you do. But the vast majority of people just want to get their money’s worth. If you go the extra mile to be sure they did, they’ll walk away happy. And they’ll tell people about you too.
Andrea J. Stenberg