No matter how 100% Customer-Centered (every thing you say and do is about and for the customers.) you are, from time to time there will be problems between you and the customer. It may be a problem with your product, your service, your staff or even you. So let’s get one thing straight. The old saying “the customer is always right” is 100% correct.
As soon as you make the customer feel they are incorrect, they are no longer your customer. Now, there may be, on occasion, a customer you do not want to keep. But for now let’s deal with solving the customer’s problems, making the customer happy, and not losing money.
Here are 3 tips for solving problems and keeping customers.
If a customer comes into your place of business, with a problem, your first move should be to physically move closer to the customer. Never be behind a counter or desk. Never put a barrier between you and your customers. And as you move around next to the customer, reach out and shake their hand while assuring them you will take care of their problems, needs and wants.
Say, “I’m sorry we are having a problem. Will you please tell me about it?” With this simple action you have now made it you and them against the problem. It is no longer them against you. If at all possible, get the customer to sit down next to you. People are not as aggressive sitting as they are standing.
Ask Questions: “Please tell me what your problem, (need, want) is.” “Please tell me all about your….” “Please explain to me all we did or did not do …..”
Empathize with them: “I understand your frustration.” “I would feel the same way.”
Let the customer vent. They are upset and angry at the problem, not you. Do not take what they are saying personally. Listen intently to them as they tell their story. If they happen to use unpleasant words, so be it. Just listen and nod your head in agreement. Say things like: “You don’t say? We did that? Tell me more about that.” Or, “Oh no, we/the product did that?” Show concern by touching them while hearing their concerns.
Re-assure: Re-assure them that you will solve their problem (needs, wants).
Propose an action plan: Offer a solution by giving them choices. As a retailer and wholesaler when I reached this point I always decided what the most important thing was that I could do for the customer to make them happy, so that I would be able to keep them as a customer and not lose money.
Notice I said not lose money. I did not say not lose pride. If you are wrong, you must admit it and fix it. What it is, is what it is. If you are not wrong, you must take the responsibility and fix it. The seller who takes ownership of the customer’s problems will keep the customer for a lifetime of profits. Either way, the customer is always right.
I then asked the customer what I could do to correct our problem. Ninety percent of the time they asked for less than I was prepared to give.
I then gave them more than what they had asked for.
Important note: If they ask for more than you can give, counter by giving the customer a choice of 3 options for solving the problem. If none of the choices satisfy them, give them 2 or 3 more choices.
Giving the customer choices gives them the feeling of control. People will agree with you when they feel they are in control. And when agreements are about to be made and upon making them, touch the customer slightly on the shoulder and say positive things such as: “Good idea.” “Ok, let’s continue.” “Thank you for your input.” Then put your agreement in writing, sign it, and have the customer sign it. Thank them again for bringing to your awareness the problem.
Always work with a customer to solve a problem. Making it you and them against the problem is always better than them against you.
Bob Janet – Sales consultant/trainer, speaker, author of “Join The Profit Club” combines 40 plus years as owner/operator of professional, retail, manufacturing and service businesses with his unique teaching and storytelling ability to motivate, educate and inspire business professionals of all levels and all industries for increased sales & profits. Contact Bob at 800-286-1203, or e-mail Bob@BobJanet.com.