How To Recover From Bad Customer Service

You’re striving for a flawless customer experience. You want them to love your business and what you do, so you make sure that employees are well trained and great systems are in place.

And despite your best efforts, stuff happens. Your customer is upset.

I’ll let you in on a secret: People aren’t that surprised. It’s not because the standard for customer care has dropped so much – it has – but because life is imperfect. It’s just the human condition.

But it’s when things don’t go perfectly that people have insight into your character. And your company’s character. People appreciate that.

When things haven’t gone well for a customer, here’s how to demonstrate great character:

1. Acknowledge the bad experience your customer just had. Hint: It sounds like, “I’m really sorry.”
2. Admit fault. Sure, I know that you’re also frustrated that the package didn’t arrive on time, but it’s cowardly to blame the delivery company. Better to admit that you ideally would have found a way to meet your promises, and take ownership.
3. Find a way to address the immediate pain. It’s broken? Replace it as quickly as possible, or repair it for free.
4. Work on rebuilding the damaged relationship. Maybe a gift certificate for the next purchase, or even a handwritten “I’m sorry” card in the mail. A relationship is personal, so make it FEEL personal.

Of course, behind the scenes you’ll be scrambling to fix the problem so it doesn’t happen again. That’s great and necessary, but mostly invisible to this particular upset customer. You have to show that you’re personal, caring, and attentive. Whether it’s a simple cup of coffee, or a $10,000 purchase.

Will people take advantage of you? Perhaps. But it’s best to strive to create a trusting and generous relationship, like you’d have with your best friend. If people want to treat your business as a friend, they’re not going to want to rip you off. Don’t let the dishonest few destroy the character of YOUR company.

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins

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