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Upon returning from a business trip, a hotel employee who participated in one of my workshops, walked up to me and exclaimed, “It worked !!”.  Not being completely sure what he meant, I asked.  He told me that he successfully applied the techniques that he learned about turning furious customers into raving fans.  

I was happy that he courageously used the knowledge he gleaned from my training session and joined him in the celebration.  Something as simple as acknowledging the problem and taking ownership can quell a potentially volatile situation.

Large and small businesses share this problem.  In many cases, not enough money is budgeted to train how to successfully solve “outraged customer” complaints.  That said, organizations, especially small businesses, experience stunted growth or actually go out of business due to customer attrition and the loss of key employees.

Take charge of the situation by:

  1. Listening intently to what is being said
  2. Apologizing and taking ownership of the problem/mistake
  3. Asking questions for clarification…repeat what is said using your own words to show that you are engaged in the conversation and that you genuinely desire to understand the complaint
  4. Giving the customer your undivided attention (do not look at/answer your phone or allow any interruptions while talking) 
  5. Displaying genuine empathy…be aware of messages that your body language may convey
  6. If an immediate quality resolution can be made, make it.  If a higher level of management needs to be brought in, do it
  7. After the problem is solved, follow up with a handwritten note stating that you are “touching base”.  Ask if they are still satisfied with the resolution.   If it is true, tell the customer how your company used the situation (sans specific names of course) as a teachable moment to staff to ensure that it never happens to any other customer.   
  8. A higher level of management should also send a handwritten note (you’d be surprised with the impact it has on restoring relationships)
  9. Incorporate the information into the company’s Key Performance Index matrix system

Turning angry customers into raving fans is a decision that only you and your company can make.  Will it require a lot of time?  Yes.  Will it cost a bit more to create, implement, and maintain a plan of action?  Yes, but keep in mind that the expense to your organization to acquire new customers to replace the ones you lost (plus the key employees) is a lot more.

Make it a great day and remain exceptional !

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