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“The Player Who ‘Serves’ Well Seldom Loses – in Business it’s NO Different” – Chapter 5/9

Evolving from a Boss into a Leader

You’ll be receiving each chapter via email over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for Chapter 6 in your next email from BOSS.

5. Good or Bad, Everyone Will Know

In the internet age every single action your business takes has the chance to make ripples, or even go viral. Obviously you want your good deeds to be the ones that spread, not your mistakes.

However, you are human, your employees are human (unless you’re reading this later than the year 2113, in which case Greetings Robot Overlords!), and you’re going to make mistakes.

Mistakes are fine. What is not fine is acting like it’s not your fault, trying to push the blame onto your customer, or trying to act like nothing’s wrong at all. That’s how negative notice starts to spread from one dissatisfied customer posting on their Facebook, the bad word spreading to their friends, and then their friends’ friends, and so on.

In fact, mistakes can be an opportunity. For one thing, they help you identify where something could use some tweaking in your business. Maybe you could be more efficient in your delivery system. Or perhaps you’ll learn, if the same complaint comes up multiple times, that it’s not marketing or customer service at fault, but your product itself that needs to be fixed up.

Second, you can turn that negative comment on Facebook or Twitter into a much bigger positive. If you respond quickly to the complaint, apologise, and then hustle like crazy to make things right for that particular customer (or reward their patience by offering more than what they paid for) you’ll show that customer (and all the people following the exchange on social media) that you’re a customer service oriented company.

What to Do if You Receive a Complaint:

  1. Take a breath. Even if the customer is completely harsh you’re not going to win more customers through this exchange if you go into attack mode. Criticisms can hurt, but remember, potential customers are waiting for you on the far side of this problem.
  2. Look at it from their point of view. The only way you’re really going to make yourself happy in this situation is by making the customer happy. So be sure you’re clear on why they’re upset before you get in touch with them. If it’s not clear then go over their points with them.
  3. Say that you’re sorry. Even if it turns out that the complaint is all smoke and mirrors opening with an apology diffuses some of the anger and tension.
  4. Make things clear to the customer. If there have been mistakes on either your part or on the customer’s explain what was meant to happen and how things went wrong. Clarity is a further way to diffuse tension, plus it explains to onlookers what’s going on.
  5. Steer the customer (and onlookers) towards a happy outcome. If you’re to blame, or partly to blame, don’t just rectify the situation, throw in a bonus to soothe the wronged party. You’re looking for a reaction from the customer (and onlookers) that is something along the lines of “WOW! This company really cares!” instead of, “Well, yeah, I guess it’s alright then.”
  6. Fix the problem.
  7. Follow through. You want to remind your customer (and the exchange onlookers) that you really made an effort to make things better. So shoot the offended party a follow-through email or letter thanking them for showing you where your business had a hiccup and how because of them you’re now a better company that is now able to serve its customers in an even better manner.

Aside from dealing with complaints, what are some other ways you can add some pop to your customers’ or clients’ exchanges with you?

Is there a freebie you can throw in for first-time customers alongside a little “Thank-you” card?

Can you show someone how to do some light maintenance on your equipment even though you might make more money if you were called in to service it? (You’ll make more money in the long run by having return customers and by having existing customers recommend you to others.)

Can you serve beverages or tasty little snacks if you’re the kind of business that has a waiting room?

These little touches have an exponential effect on your clients remembering you. They come expecting good service, they’ll return because you offer that little something more.

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