There is always a blog floating around about poor customer service. We've all been there. Someone said something, did something or didn't do something they promised to do. Maybe a product didn't live up to expectations. I've had my share recently, and it seems like when I need for everyone to be performing at top level is when they are most likely to do something wonky.
I like to give the offender a chance to make things right, but once they ignore or refuse to right a customer complaint I will respond accordingly. And, I find that people handle poor customer service in one of three ways.
- The first group is disappointed, mad or offended and simply commit to not doing business with the company again. They're the silent sufferers. This one is tough because you may not know there's a problem. Somewhere along the line, they list their house with another agent, or they buy through another agent. They don't encourage their friends or family members to use you, but you're totally unaware of what happened. They probably won't even talk about it with anyone. They just move on.
- The second group is the confrontational group. They're disappointed enough to talk to you. I called my bank today because a check order is three weeks late. I'm disappointed and in need of our company checks. Did I let them know? Absolutely. Did I yell and make a scene. Not at all. I like my bank, but I don't like poor service. In this case, they use a third party provider. That makes it easier to be more patient with them. I want them to succeed. So, I made the call. I have contacts all through the food chain at the bank and all of the other contacts know that. If I'm calling with a problem, they scramble. I rarely ever call. If I'm calling with a complaint, it's worth taking notice. These are the folks you want on your side. They will help you correct failures, and in the process, you will be better and they will be faithful.
- Then there's the third group. These folks get visibly and maybe even hostile mad. They are like a heat seeking missile and you are the target. They're not disappointed, they're mad, and they are vocal. They will make a scene in the middle of the Mall. They will send letters, call CEOs, tell all their friends, post a snarky note on Facebook or other social media, carry a sign in front of your business, blog about their experience with their slant alone and in anyway possible make your life miserable until they get what they want. Then, they will walk away with their prize and never return to your business. They will continue to speak poorly of you - so you can't win.
Of course, your best defense is good customer service. If you sense something is wrong with a client, ask him. He may be having a bad day. If a regular client suddenly disappears, give her a call if you know how to contact her, or ask her friends if she is OK. If a service failed him, offer to do it over at your expense. If a product is substandard, replace it. If an employee was rude to her, apologize and promise that you will take care of it. Then discuss the situation with the employee and find out what happened. There are always two sides.
Not every customer that gets mad with you or your company has a legitimate right to be mad. Listen to what they say, empathize when you can and promise to investigate the situation. Once your investigation is over, tell the client you checked things out and have taken measures so it doesn't happen again. Make any corrections you need to make on your side, and then move on.
Faithful customers make your business prosper, but as hard as you try, a few frustrated customers will slip through the cracks. Do you best to reconcile each case, but also know that some people will never accept your best efforts. Be your best with every client. Do your best with every client, and make every client feel like he is important.