Angry customers are dangerous…to your business that is. While it may be that 99% of your customer base is generally satisfied by your company and service, the truth is, it is the remaining 1% and how you deal with them that will define your reputation. As I touched on last week in my post on how bad customer services spreads much faster these days due to the amount of social networking that is at everyone’s fingertips, it is seriously important that all angry and frustrated customers be handled in a timely manner.
Bad service usually means negative comments shared on your site, your Facebook profile, their various profiles, tweets, and the “tips” sections on all kinds of others check-in apps and services. Angry bloggers may write against your service, and that will eventually start showing up in Google searches for the world to see.
While some companies are turning a smaller profit and do not feel they can afford to appease every dissatisfied customer with refunds and credits. In the long run, however, it may cost you more through bad press and stress, than if you had simply given the customer something that would totally satisfy them.
When you first are confronted by an angry customer, you need to remove yourself out of the equation and realize it is not really a personal attack against you. Then you have to determine who is ultimately at fault, but without playing the blame game. If the customer is truly at fault, you must find a way to explain without offending or adding fuel to the fire. If they are not at fault then you must determine who is, and without passing the buck or pointing the customer in another direction, you take the situation into your hands and walk it through the proper channels until it is resolved.
I have personally worked in a retail business for more than 15 years, as a mail order book distributor on the side. I would say that of the customer complaints I have received in those year, the bulk of them have been shipping issues. Now obviously shipping is a bit out of my control, and it would be ever so easy to just pass the buck and blame the post office, but that is not satisfying the customer, who is likewise not at fault. In all cases, the important factor is getting the customer what they deserve, and that is their order, and then work out the issue once they are satisfied.
If an item is seriously late or some kind of other serious shipping issue, my job is to resend a new item if available, as soon as possible, and then work to resolve the issue with the first shipment. I always tell the customer I am sending a new shipment and ask them to watch out in case they get two, and if so to just “refuse” and return the second shipment.
Oftentimes, as a way to gain back the trust and loyalty of a customer who may have had another type of issue, we will include additional freebie items that will make them feel as if they have received above and beyond what they expected. Giving the customer more than they expected, is a positive act that can get positive word of mouth promotion from them to others.
Of course sometime, no matter what you attempt, the customer is simply too unreasonable. In those cases, you must always, always maintain your cool, never show your frustration or fire back at the customer; but simply apologize, refer them to the store policy, remind them of the ways you have attempted to resolve their issue, and let them know there is nothing else you can do beyond that. Sometimes that is all you can do.
Just remember, that even if you are just an employee of a larger company, your service to the customer is a true representation of the company to the customer and will affect the company as a whole, and eventually may work back to directly affect you. Do not let your actions be the cause of angry and dissatisfied customers that may spread bad social press.