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October 2011

 

Resolving Customer Service Failures

Its not "if," its only "when."  No matter how good you are, no matter how careful you try to be, every business has to deal with dissatisfied, unhappy, even angry customers.  Perception is reality: if the customer thinks you failed them, then you did fail them.  So what do you do now?

Want to turn angry customers into your best salespeople?  Try these steps.

Key Steps

1   . Do Handsprings to Resolve Failures

Remember: A customer who experiences a problem is not necessarily a lost customer.  A customer with a problem is an opportunity, even an asset to your business.  We go to extraordinary lengths to impress prospects, but often forget to do the same for regular customers.

2. Accept Responsibility

The customer already believes it is your responsibility, so surprise them.  Say "On behalf of our organization, I apologize, and I accept responsibility the for situation."  In a world of passing the buck this simple act will shock the customer out of the anger, fear, and frustration that accompany disappointment.  Doing this emotionally disarms the customer, and opens the door for a collaborative solution.

3. Ask For Suggestions

Say "I'm not promising we can do it, but if there were a way to resolve this issue to your satisfaction, what would it be?"  Their answer will give you a place to begin your efforts.  Often the customer will offer a solution that requires less time, effort, and expense than what you would have suggested.  Even if you cannot use their solution, at least you took the time to listen, and that will make a difference.

4. Describe How You Will Proceed

Explain exactly how you will proceed to resolve the situation.  Even if you do not have a clue of the long-term solution, tell them what you will do short-term (within the next few minutes or hours).  Tell them who will be involved, what you will do, when it will happen, where it will take place, why you are choosing those steps, how it will affect them.  Give them as much detail as you know.  Open, honest communication is the key.

5. Follow Up

The person who meets the problem owns the problem.  This applies short term and long term. Even if you hand the problem to someone else to resolve, you still own the responsibility for the customer's long-term satisfaction.  Contact the customer during the solution, to see if they approve of the process.  Contact them after the solution, to see if it satisfied their needs.  Contact them a month later, to make certain the problem stayed solved and they are still satisfied.  Then ask for a testimonial letter of recommendation.

 



 

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