There’s nothing worse than having to deal with an angry customer. But bouncing back from these negative experiences can help you improve your customer satisfaction levels way more than positive feedback. Successfully reeling back in a disgruntled client can actually make your relationship with them much more solid.
Your Customer Is Only Human
The first step in patching things up is internalizing the fact that your customer is a human being, and as such, they’re bound to have their ups and downs. Don’t treat them like they’re just another variable in your business equation. There are a lot of things that can affect the way in which people react to certain situations.
Maybe your customer had a bad day, or maybe they were just tired. All of these things are beyond your control, but you have to empathize with your customer. You’re not just trying to fix a problem, you’re talking to a person, and understand where they’re coming from.
Don’t make the situation worse by bringing your own frustration into the mix. If a friend walked up to you, to talk about their problems, you wouldn’t start complaining about your own. You’d sit there and listen, and ask for details until you had a better grasp on what was going on. Maybe blowing off some steam is all it takes to make them feel better.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Even if your customer’s problem seems kind of absurd, try putting yourself in their position. They don’t know everything that goes on behind the scene. They have no way of understanding the complicated set of steps it takes to provide them with a product or service. They only know they wanted something, and didn’t work out.
Think about the information they lack in their position, and try to explain. Being left in the dark about the process is bound to make them feel frustrated because they’re not in control of the situation. Imagine what information would help you in this situation. It’s going to help you empathize with your customer, and in turn, it’s going to make them feel like you’re genuinely listening to their complaint.
Understand the Nature of the Misunderstanding
When having to deal with a lot of people, both at an internal, and external level, communication breakdowns are bound to happen.
If your customer’s complaint is related to a communication error, try to retrace the steps that led to it, and find the level at which it occurred. Internal communication issues need to be resolved quickly, otherwise, they can lead to more serious problems than just one unsatisfied customer. They can have a ripple effect, that’s going to cost you in the future.
If the problem occurred at the level of customer interaction, maybe it would be a good idea to update the way in which your employees handle customers. The criticism you’ve received is a great tool for improving your protocol when it comes to clients.
Don’t Let the Situation Sort Itself Out
If the issue is not resolved during a single conversation, send a follow-up email, or call them to ask for more details and feedback.
If you want to bring your disappointed back, don’t just let them sit there. They might forgive, and forget, but they might also decide to move on, and you don’t want that.
If reach the root of the communication error, if the nature of the problem allows, you can inform your client of your findings, and share with them the steps you are taking to improve the situation. Ask them for feedback, and see if they believe the solution will benefit them. This is going to regain their trust, and it’s going to show them you genuinely care about their satisfaction.
Your customer expects you to offer them service, and they don’t really care what you have to do to provide them with it. Maybe it was their fault for the misunderstanding, but rarely are they going to admit that.
Take responsibility for whatever you can. Shift the focus of their complaint, and let them feel like they’re the boss. After all, they really are in charge. And if you want to have the best customer relation out there, there shouldn’t any room for errors, even if it’s the client’s fault.
Sometimes, mistakes will happen, but your client should feel like every mistake is an exception, and generally you’re extremely careful about what goes on. Assure them of the fact that you are taking charge of the situation, and if they continue doing business with you, this won’t happen again.
If you try to shift the blame on to them, you’re just going to make them angrier. Plus, they may decide to move to another company, that they feel understands them better.
If you take responsibility for their mistake, they won’t have a reason to go away, because they won’t have to figure out a solution. They can just continue doing what they always did, and that’s a very comforting feeling.
Offer Them Compensation
No matter what the damages are, if you want to maintain your customer’s loyalty after a disagreement, you should try to offer some sort of compensation. It can be a gift coupon, or a free subscription to a service for a limited period, anything that has some monetary value. However, don’t offer them something like 20% off their next purchase. Using this moment as a business opportunity in such a direct way is definitely going to drive them away forever.
Compensations are good because it shows your customer that you understand the severity of the situation from their perspective. And that’s important. Because even though it may be some minor annoyance, from your point of view, as far as your customer is concerned, it’s a really big deal, and you should respect that.
What you’re basically doing is ascribing a real value to their complaint. So, don’t be cheap. If you maintain their loyalty, you can be sure you’re going to make back the investment later on, with interest.
Your customer is in a very weird position. On the one hand, they’re being told that they are in charge. And they want to believe that. But in reality, more often than not, they can’t really directly control anything about your business. So, when a misunderstanding occurs, suddenly they no longer feel like they’re in charge. And that’s scary. So they’re going to do anything in their power to regain that feeling if it means walking away.
So you should apologize. Apologizing might make you look weak, but it’s going to make them feel like they’re in control again. And short-term that’s all that matters. You can adjust your relation as time goes on, once it’s stabilized.
We all have our fair share of mishaps and bad days. Your customers are no different. But it’s up you to decide where your professional relationship is going after a misunderstanding.
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Amanda Wilks is a Digital Marketing Specialist and a Contributing Editor at Customer Survey Report. She has a great interest in everything related to corporate branding and recruiting and loves helping companies succeed at making a powerful impact on the market.