Tuesday January 17, 2012
Securing A Positive 'Buzz'
Retaining customers and managing complaints part of doing business
Submitted by Jack Bass, Chilliwack
Strategic Planning Institute Study discovered 96 % of unhappy customers do not complain AND 90 % of those customers will not do business with the company again.
You cannot afford to keep "replacing customers" because replacement cost is so much higher than retention .
Basic Questions To Help you Establish A System:
1) Do you track / how many clients you lose each year
2) Do you have a protocol to deal with customer complaints
3) When a customer has a problem how do you find out about it
4) Are you proactively asking how the customer views your service/products
5) Are you solving or avoiding
6) What is your customer survey method(s) AND do you know how to prepare a survey
7) How did you use past results
The positive aspect of a proper survey and follow-up creates the reverse side of negative publicity. It creates positive " buzz" about your company. A customer who has their problem solved is more satisfied and likely to recommend you then a customer who says nothing.
Therefore in Part 2 we will focus on handling the complaints or problems as they occur. The most interesting fact – for owners is that problem solving – and establishing new standards to avoid repeating the same issue results in setting a higher standard of operation which will attract and retain more customers. It is easier to pretend the problem does not exist or problem staff will correct themselves – pretending and ignoring will destroy your business.
The Golden Rule: Never Argue That The customer Is Wrong
Dale Carnegie in the now classic " How To Win friends And Influence People" said it all in a few words:
You never win over a person by the force of your argument - both sides simply become more entrenched and certain of their position.
As a business operator you don't want a customer to hear your brilliant defense and then walk away. They won't talk to you but they will tell ten potential customers to avoid you - and tearfully repeat how you argued with them.
There Is A Routine In Handing Complaints
This pattern is one I teach restaurant staffs but the lessons apply to every sector:
Simply saying " I'm sorry you are upset " – disarms the anger. the customer is gearing up for a fight and you ( or your staff ) take the offense and announce with the apology , there isn't going to be a fight.
2) Clarify the Issue(s)
I'm sorry you are upset about :
.. the time it took to bring your order
.. the wrong ... being delivered etc etc.
3) Say : "Here's what I can do to make amends "
AND THEN offer two alternatives :
You Do Not Offer All Services Free - that attracts freeloaders to cheat you.
You offer reasonable services that a reasonable person will accept.
I can offer you a free desert today - our wonderful cheesecake supreme
I can reduce your bill by 20% to makeup for the poor service.
4) AND THEN ASK " Which do you prefer ?" This places control in the hands of the customer.
5) Conclude here. If they refuse - you can simply repeat " This is what I can do to make amends ." Repeat the offer/choice.
Reasonable people will accept. Unreasonable customers will never be happy. Let them go annoy your competition.