Although there’s no one way in which a business owner can deal with unhappy clients, there are certain steps that they can take to help the situation. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
An unhappy customer may quickly turn into an angry customer. If this does happen, then you need to remain calm. The customer may yell at you or start to be rude, but the worst thing you can do is to respond in a similar manner. Maintain your composure and don’t rise to their level. Keeping yourself calm and composed is the key to having the situation under control, and more importantly, handled on your terms.
Actively listen to what the customer is saying as they air their grievances. They need someone to vent to, and you’re the person they want to tell. Instead of impatiently waiting until they’ve finished saying your piece, listen to what they’re saying and respect them. Try to create a partnership between you and the client, letting them know that you’re ready to listen.
Once you understand your customer’s concerns, it’s important to be empathetic. Show them that you understand why they’re upset. Express sympathy for their unpleasant customer experience and explain your desire to resolve the problem. If a customer doesn’t believe that you are being genuine in understanding their problem, they will be more reluctant when you try to offer an apology or solution.
Whether the complaint is legitimate or not, that age-old saying ‘the customer is always right’ does apply. The fact that their complaint might not be genuine is irrelevant. If you want to keep your customer’s loyalty, and also your good reputation, you must apologise. Express that you are sorry, making sure to mention exactly why you are sorry by referencing their initial grievance.
If you feel ready to present the customer with a viable solution, then discuss it with them. Don’t offer anything that may seem unfair or not enough to satisfy the customer’s qualms. Put forward a realistic answer that provides a helpful outcome. Remember to ask the customer whether they are happy with the solution you’ve come up with. Providing the solution is fair and just, there should be no reason why the customer isn’t satisfied. If they do resist, then you can turn the situation around by asking them what you can do to make the problem better. That way, they can feel like they’ve been handed the power to resolve things. Ultimately, this will leave them happier with the solution.
However, in some rare cases, the issue may involve a conflict between staff members. If this happens, you should consult the most efficient dispute resolution solicitors. This will mean that the root of the problem is also dealt with internally.
If you have handled the problem in the best way possible, your customer should return for repeat business. Sometimes they can be reasonable enough to acknowledge that the problem may not have been entirely your fault, and in other cases, they might be more stubborn. Either way, dealing with issues as they arise as quickly and efficiently as possible should help in the general day to day running of your business.
By Paul Matthews
Paul Matthews is a Manchester-based business writer who writes in order to better inform business owners on how to run a successful business. You can usually find him at the local library or browsing Forbes’ latest pieces.