Tuesday January 17, 2012

Business News

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:


1) Apologize

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.

     Example :

     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.





Twitter @jack25bc