I think it would be a fair statement to say that almost everyone in sales has had to deal with an upset or angry customer.
In today’s complex world, a myriad of things can go wrong. From a system crash or breakdown, to shipment delays or mistakes, clerical errors, or an oversight, there are often dozens of things that can cause a problem.
However, a customer complaint can actually help you increase your sales.
Several years ago I read that a complaint that has been effectively resolved can generate three to four times more revenue from that customer compared to someone who has never experienced a problem with your company.
In a recent issue of Fortune magazine, the Executive VP of World Service for American Express discussed how he has changed how their customer service agents approach each call. The result has led to an impressive 10-15 percent increase in customer spending and four to five times increased retention.
Let’s face it; dealing with an angry or irate customer is never enjoyable.
However, if you manage the situation carefully you can increase customer satisfaction and retention, improve brand loyalty, AND most importantly, increase your sales.
Although many sales people are effective at solving the problem, their efforts could be improved. Here is a four-step process that will help you turn an irate customer into a raving fan.
Listen to the Complaint
Sounds simple, right?
In my experience, most people don’t fully listen to the person who is complaining. When someone starts venting on us, our natural instinct is to defend ourselves, explain why the problem happened and jump to offering a solution.
However, until the customer is finished expressing their frustration, it can be difficult for them to accept a solution. To effectively resolve a problem, it is important to allow the other person to vent and carefully listen to them. Resist the temptation to quickly offer a solution.
Empathize with the Customer
Empathy is act of verbally demonstrating that you understand, respect or appreciate the other person’s situation or perspective and it is one of the most powerful tools when dealing with upset customers.
It sounds like this, “Mr. Jones, I understand how frustrating this is for you; I would be upset too if my order was delayed this long.”
This approach often diffuses the hostility and helps you and the customer get focused and on track.
Apologize to the Customer
Another powerful act is to actually take the time to apologize for the situation. The mistake or problem may not be your fault but apologizing goes a long way in making the customer feel that you care about their situation.
“I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.”
It may sound like a simple concept but I am constantly surprised how few people take the time to apologize for the problem.
Resolve the Problem
The last step is to actually resolve the problem. Resist the temptation to skip through the first three steps because they help deal with the emotional aspect of the situation and they help everyone move forward.
Customer complaints can be gifts. They can identify problems and when effectively handled and resolved can go a long way to helping you increase your sales and improve customer loyalty.
Could your team use some help dealing with difficult customers? Give me a shout and we can discuss the best way to help you achieve this. 905-633-7750.