In business, you can’t please everyone all of the time — even if your customer service protocol is perfectly designed and your employees’ public interactions are near-flawless. Eventually, whether it’s justified or not, a customer is going to be unhappy. Given how easy it is for such negative feelings to be aired out on social media, one bad experience can do significant harm to a business’ reputation.
While we can’t always control how our customers feel about things, we do have complete control over how we choose to respond. By making the right decision, business owners can mitigate any damage that might arise from an unhappy customer — and potentially earn even greater loyalty down the road.
With that in mind, let’s review some of the most important things business owners can offer displeased customers.
A sympathetic ear
Nothing makes a customer more irritated than the feeling her complaints aren’t being taken seriously. Yet on the other hand, even serious negative feelings can be assuaged by a sympathetic ear. It’s important to make sure customers know you value their business and take their view of the situation seriously.
Often what an aggrieved customer wants more than anything else is an opportunity to vent. This costs a business owner nothing, yet it’s an invaluable tool for calming frayed feelings and repairing any breach in the relationship. The key is to stay calm, avoid personalizing the situation and listen sympathetically.
A discount or free item
There’s a reason why a business like McDonald’s will offer you a free apple pie if there’s a problem with your order — it often immediately defuses a potentially unhappy situation. Discounts, or free items, funnel the attention of the customer to the benefit they’ve just received. Instead of being angry about a customer service or product issue, they’re now pleased with gift they’ve received.
It’s important to note that this discount or free item doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Customers are often happy to receive a small token of your gratitude. It let’s them know that you value their time — and their patronage.
A coupon or voucher for future use
Providing unhappy customers with a discount will usually help smooth over a rough interaction. There is, however, no guarantee that customer will return. One bad experience could cost a business owner years of repeat business.
If you’d like another shot at providing a more pleasant customer experience, consider offering a coupon or a voucher that may be redeemed at a future visit. This makes it more likely your unhappy customer will return, giving your company the chance to earn back her long-term trust and patronage.
A follow up note
Apologizing at the point of sale will usually help smooth ruffled feathers — at least as long as it’s earnest and sincerely offered. Sometimes, however, it makes sense to take things a step further.
In a case where you feel it’s warranted, consider reaching out via e-mail or mailed letter to express how much you value that customer’s business. This kind of personal touch is rare in today’s business world — and might just overcome any lingering bad feelings.
Business owners can’t avoid unhappy customers. They can, however, take measures to alleviate any hard feelings and earn back a customer’s favor. By following the steps outlined above, you can help ensure that your customers don’t remain unhappy — and keep coming back year after year.
Contact us today about our outsourced customer service call center solutions if you’d like to provide positive experiences for your callers around the clock.