Turn customer complaints to opportunities Janice B Gordon

Turn customerI was recently left down by a venue supplier for an important event and due to the last minute nature I was forced to postpone for a later date and different venue.

I found it galling that the venue did not take any responsibility for their late notice of the change in contract term or that they played any part in the failure of the transaction.

Tali Yahalom states in her article ‘How to Handling Customer Complaints’; ‘The last thing unsatisfied customers want to hear is a recitation of your company’s return policies.   Ann Thomas (senior consultant at Performance Research Associates) says, “Today’s customer expects to be treated as an individual, not as just another number who’s complaining”. Your company should know that occasionally bending the rules will ultimately cost less it than it would to lose the customer or, worse, if the customer leaves and relays a negative story about your company.’ http://bit.ly/QjCHNP

So when the Manager of disappointing venue who let me and my customers down emailed “I believe I have already explained to you the reasons for our Terms & Conditions”, it did not work its’ charm but fuelled my disgust.

New Media and Marketing present a compelling argument for taking complaints seriously http://bit.ly/U408gz:

1.    About 25% of buyers are dissatisfied with commercial offerings, yet fewer than 4% actually report their gripes. 

2.    Estimates say that at least 50% of dissatisfied customers who do not complain simply quit buying from the company that disappointed them. 

3.    Typical dissatisfied clients tell 10 or more other people about their unhappiness with a product or service, and each of those 10 people tells five more. These numbers rise substantially in cyberspace. 

4.    For consumer product companies, this is an unmitigated disaster: One grievance eventually reaches some 1,200 people. Firms that do not deal well with complaints lose anywhere from 5% to 15% of their revenues.

5.    However, depending on the type of company, 54% to 70% of customers who complain will do more business with a company that resolves their problems quickly

How should you handle complaints?

·         Have systems in place, when an issue occurs your managers should be made aware so action can be swift to prevent the problem and frustration escalating.

·         Acknowledge the problem and thank the customer for bring the problem to your attention (remember this is an opportunity to grow your business).

·         Apologise that the customer encountered a problem – the customer is always right even when they are wrong!

·         If possible deal with the issue in person or pick up the phone, do not respond via email, it is impersonal.

·         Listen intently looking for the opportunity to put right the wrong – be quiet and allow the customer to vent their frustration and then ask open questions to gather information and reduce the emotion.

·         It is not person it is a problem that you choose to resolve. Ask the customer to suggest a fair and reasonable solution.

·         Act quickly and deliver on all promises and follow-up that the customer is satisfied.

·         Send the customer a surprise bonus to encourage them to continue to do business with you again with a hand written card thanking them for their patience.

The idea is to turn a disgruntle customer into a loyal lifetime customer.  Customers understand that things go wrong; there are huge opportunities in winning custom righting the problem. 

New Media and Marketing.com state, ‘Consumers who complain and receive satisfaction are more inclined to praise the organizations that took care of them than patrons who never complained. These satisfied customers will keep doing business with the responding companies for a longer period and will spend more money with them’. http://bit.ly/U408gz

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Janice B Gordon: The Problem Solver Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Speaker and Author. Business Evolution – Creating Growth in a Rapidly Changing World will give you the guidance you need to evolve you and your business and exceed your customers wants and needs.

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