It has probably happened to you.
You get an email or even a phone call from someone who is
upset or unhappy with this or that about your business.
Most of us donít really care to deal with whiners or
complainers, but, if youíll just take a deep breath and take
some time to think about it, many times they offer you some
solid insight into your business that you would not have seen.
If you just react to their complaint without taking the
position that their concern might be legitimate, you will lose
many valuable insights and may very likely lose a customer.
After all, they are on the receiving end of your business, and
you canít disregard this. Whether they are just irritated or are
really upset for some reason, you need to be prepared for how to
respond. Take a deep breath and keep the following in mind the
next time you have a run-in with a disgruntled or upset
1. They often identify potential problem areas.
The cause of most customer complaints is failed expectations. It
could have been something you said, or failed to say. It could
have been something you did or didnít do. Or maybe your customer
is simply confused. Whatever the case, customers are usually
unhappy because they expected something from you that didnít
occur, and from their perspective, needs to be remedied.
If the cause of their dissatisfaction is reasonable, guess
what? They just helped you see something you missed, and now you
can take care of it and make your business even better. And that
is a blessing.
Itís best to make sure you make things right by giving your
customer what they expected (if it is reasonable) and then do
something else Ė give an extra gift of value to your customer
and a genuine thank you for bringing it to your attention. Their
jaw will usually hit the floor. You would be absolutely amazed
at how this will turn even the most dissatisfied complainer into
an extremely loyal and perhaps even a lifetime (and happy)
2. The complaining customer represents others who wonít say
If you have a customer who makes a complaint about something
related to your business, you should assume the there are others
who probably had the same issue, but never said a word to you.
Itís a well-established fact that the majority of your
customers generally wonít utter a peep. They typically prefer to
avoid confrontation, and so they will just leave and start doing
business with one of your competitors. You want to avoid this
like the plague. The best way to do that is to make sure you ask
your customers regularly for their candid feedback. And then be
sure to make adjustments and let them know what you did.
3. A complaint is often a wake-up call for what your
customers really need.
Itís one thing for you to figure out what you think your
customers need, but itís even better when they tell you. Since
most customer complaints are based on failed expectations, a
complaint is an excellent opportunity to assess how well you are
actually meeting the needs of your customers.
If more than one customer makes the same suggestion or
complaint, guess what? Thatís a clue you probably should take a
closer look at an issue. You need to figure out if you need to
tweak your sales message, your product or service, or the way
you provide service and support. Whatever it is, its bound to
improve your business because you will be responding to the
stated needs of your customers.
4. When they are done complaining, they will talk with
Itís so important to remember that the way you handle a customer
complaint is not the end of the matter! In fact, itís actually
much closer to the beginning. A complaint is a tremendous
opportunity if you handle the situation tactfully.
This is because if you listen and respond to a complaint by
fixing what was wrong, and send your customer off with a gift
and a thank you Ė they will tell at least 10 other people about
their experience. Thatís called word of mouth advertising Ė the
most powerful form of advertising on the planet Ė and thatís
where your opportunity lies. And though it may not result in
more customers for you, it just might Ė and in any event, it
sure canít hurt.
You need to keep in mind that this door swings both ways. If
you fail to resolve a complaint, they will talk with even MORE
people about it! This can cause great damage to your online
reputation Ė a mortal blow to the trust you seek to cultivate
with your customers and prospects, which, by the way, is the
most important online commodity you have.
5. Your customer is far more important to your business than
With all the emphasis most online business owners put into
marketing, itís easy to overlook this simple fact. A focus on
marketing can be a distraction from investing more time on and
with your customers.
If you treat a complaining customer with respect, tact, care,
and genuine understanding Ė you might wind up keeping them in
the end Ė especially if they believe that their concerns are
appreciated and will be corrected immediately. Donít forget,
itís FAR less expensive (both financially and in many other
ways) to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
You might even want to follow up and tell your customer what
actions you intend to take as a result of their complaint or
And then be sure to follow-up with them again and tell them
what you actually did. If they see that kind of response from
you, what will they think? They will know you value their
feedback Ė and for many customers Ė that makes all the
difference Ė even if you fail to remedy the issue completely.
Keep in mind that ANY time you have an opportunity to connect
in a positive way by giving a customer positive news is great
for your business, and puts them in a better frame of mind
towards you - which means they will be more likely to think of
you the next time they need a solution you have to offer.
Because youíve effectively communicated that you are responsive
to their needs.
6. Fixing complaints removes excuses to not buy from you.
If you invest the time and energy to eliminate the cause(s) of
failed expectations your customers come up with, guess what
youíve just done? Youíve just taken away more roadblocks that
might otherwise prevent them from buying from you. So, my motto
is, I want to hear all about it when my customers are unhappy!
Because the more I hear, the more I can take action to
demonstrate that what they want is important to me.
Working to eliminate obstacles on their behalf causes my
customers to see me as one of their solution providers Ė and
ultimately, their best choice.
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