A successful business cannot be considered a success without the support of a good customer. How you treat your customers, especially if you own a service-oriented business, can make the difference between a loyal returning customer who will become an ambassador for your business and a lost opportunity or a negative influence for your company who is likely to cause more harm then good.
Frances Kweller, entrepreneur and founder of Kweller Prep, a learning incubator specializing in advanced test preparation in New York, New York, offers the following tips on how to turn a bad customer into a good one:
1. Call the customer: When you know a customer is unhappy, don’t be afraid to call the customer directly. Find out what the issue is and hear them out. Take good notes and be careful to address the problem. Let them speak their minds and give them the time to make their point. Hold off on responding until they are finished speaking.
2. Don’t defend: After you’ve let the customer speak, there’s no point in snapping back to defend your business. If they are unhappy they are not going to be willing to hear your side of the story anyway. Tell them you understand how they are feeling and try to see their point. Hearing negative commentary may be difficult but you may be able to turn a negative into a positive.
3. Offer free services or a refund: There’s no reason not to provide a refund or a free service in order to make things better. In a service-oriented business, the customer is always right and to make things right they’ll appreciate that you’ve heard them and made the gesture.
4. Follow up: It’s important to check in with a dissatisfied customer to see how things are going after you’ve provided the free service or refund. They will appreciate your customer service and most times will even spread the word about how you’ve handled the situation. Customers like being made to feel important. This simple gesture will keep them coming back for more.
5. Not everyone has to be a customer: Your sanity is more important than money. Don’t take on customers that you instinctually know won’t be good for you or for your business. They may have unreasonably high or unrealistic expectations of the services you can provide. It’s better to turn a potential bad customer down to avoid headaches later on. Use your instincts. Some people can’t be pleased no matter what you do and don’t put yourself into a bad situation to begin with.