Turn a Negative into a Positive
When an angry customer walks into your business to complain, or phones into the call center you can almost hear a collective sigh. What is it this time? When in all reality, this customer story or pain point should be used to help make the sales person, product, service and overall business better.
It’s easy to be offended by a negative comment but don’t miss the chance to grow from the life lesson, even if the complaint isn’t specific to you. Challenge yourself to use the feedback to make things better. First, calm the angry customer, don’t get defensive, just listen. Once they’ve calmed down, you need to dig in and fully understand the problem before you can solve the issue, that means asking a lot of questions. You’re not only gaining more insight into the situation, you’re able to identify if this is a valid complaint, either way, the bonus is you’re showing the customer you hear them and you care. When you discover a legitimate problem, you then need to find a solution, if you need to involve others to find the answer, assign someone to follow up with the customer. Follow up is a lost art, we all hear the promise of it but few businesses deliver. Do what’s right for your customer, even if your answer isn’t what they want to hear, they will value the fact you didn’t forget them.
What happens when the problem is solved? If you move on to your next task, you are missing an opportunity. Once the customer is satisfied you need to look closer at the issue and dig deeper, internally. If the problem is a customer service complaint, it needs to be addressed with the individual and possibly the entire call center. If the issue deals with how something is manufactured, your team needs to figure out the necessary production changes. Too often in business, leaders work so hard each day to put out the fires, we react to the problems, band aids are applied and we forget to proactively fix the overall issues, so the same errors don’t happen again.
If you don’t have a plan to address feedback, positive or negative, you’re missing critical data to improving your business. It’s easy in today’s world to learn about your competition, but as you continually evolve your business to meet the needs of your market, if you aren’t listening to your customers and their current needs, that can quickly translate into lost business.