Handling Difficult Customers - Does Your Business Have a Plan?
Mardi Milligan, MBA, Copyright 2009
During the fall of 2008, Nadar Shooshtari and Simona Stan, professors in the Department of Marketing and Management at the University of Montana, surveyed 182 businesses who were members of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce. You can read the full article, by clicking on the July issue of InBusinessMonthly.
The focus of the survey article was handling difficult customers and having a proactive plan. (My three-hour customer service training covers these things--see Fine Tuning Your Team.) It's extremely important to have in place, 1) "how" to accept a complaint, especially a face-to-face conflict, 2) what type of response the employee should provide to the customer and 3) what can the company do proactively to prevent the same type of complaint from reoccurring.
Many times company complaints fall through the cracks (repetitive or not) and don't get back to management for a solution. But, in these challenging times, businesses MUST BE proactive, because if customers aren't happy with what you provide to them, they'll give their future business to somebody else. Sixty-eight percent of your customers walk away from YOUR business, because you just don't care. Then it costs you four times as much to get one more customer to walk in your door again.
Sometimes businesses ARE afraid to ask how their service was, but in truth, people who complain are telling you they care about your business. If they really don't care, they walk out and will go tell four people, those four people will tell four people and you have a viral negative marketing campaign. Oh, and the opposite is also true. (I also cover this in my customer service training.) If your service is fantastic, your customer will tell four people, and those four people will tell four more, and so on.
Thanks, Nadar and Simona, for doing the survey. I love it when I hear others talking about how to improve their business and keep their customers happy!
Fine Tuning Tip of the Month:
Don't be afraid to ask your customer how your service was or if they are happy with your product. Provide a survey form. Keep them all in one place. Review them on a regular basis. The whole reason for being in business in the first place is about keeping your customers satisfied!
Note: My girlfriend who owns a Honda car, called me several years ago and said she'd been listening to a radio talk show about the automotive business. She said they were saying most car companies were concerned about money, the bottom line and making sure the stockholders made money. But Honda? They wanted to make a car their customers love! What a concept!
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