A Complaining Customer May be Your Best Customer

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” according to Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

No matter the size of your business, customers who complain are giving you a chance to keep their business.  Most unhappy customers don’t take the time to complain, they just quit doing business with you.  But guess what:  They didn’t say anything to you, but they’re definitely telling all their friends. The experts say, the average upset customer tells nine people.

So what can you do?  To avoid losing customers because of a bad experience, you need to make it easy for them to complain. That’s right.  Let them know their complaints are welcome.  Keep in mind, a complaining customer cares enough about the relationship with your business to at least bring the issue to your attention.

Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain your composure when a customer is angry and in many cases down-right rude.  But let them vent and don’t interrupt.  And whatever you do, don’t take it personally.

Listen carefully and with empathy – letting the customer know you appreciate their feelings and you are taking them seriously. Try to rephrase the problem for clarity and ask for confirmation from the customer.  Then, look for a resolution.  I like to ask the customer what their ideal resolution to the situation is.  If you’re able to give them what they want, it can’t get much better than that.  But if you can’t try to come to a compromise about which the customer feels good.

Always thank the customer for being the problem to your attention and for giving you an opportunity to redeem yourself.  Keep in mind, of those customers who complain, 56 to 70 percent will do business with your company again if the complaint is resolved.  That goes up to 96 percent if the complaint is resolved quickly.

By the way, the research shows that customers who have never had a problem with a company are less loyal than those who have had a problem satisfactorily resolved.  Plus, they are more likely to tell others how pleased they are with how the situation was handled.  Turning an unhappy customer into a happy is a powerful business strategy.

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