A happy customer is so much more than one that doesn’t complain to you. Happy customers tell stories and recommend you quietly to their friends. They renew contracts and look to you as a leader in your industry. They are a revenue and PR source for your business, but they are not the only customers you have.
Everyone has had a customer complain and demand things. Everyone knows that there are also unhappy customers out there that just seethe quietly and wait for the contract they have to expire.
BUT… this is your chance.
Make them happy.
Change their minds.
I’m not talking about offering them discounts on the next chunk of money they need to spend with you. I’m talking about improving what they already have with you. Possibly improving what they have already paid you to do.
If you are selling a service, don’t sit comfortably on your laurels. Improve the service. Ask for feedback. Implement the feedback. Thank the people who gave you this chance-publicly if possible-for giving you their opinions that were able to improve your business for others.
Ok, you also know that there are customers who are unhappy and complain. Some people are just complainers, while others really have a valid issue.
Over the span of my life I have experienced complaints of all kinds.
- The complainer with no friends:
This is a person who really just needs someone to hear their beef and tell them you understand. They aren’t really looking for discounts or freebies, they want to voice their issue and be offered a solution if one exists. I find these are also the same customers that want you to read the box to them when they are looking to make a purchase. Do your best to help them; even if it means telling them to unplug the system and restart; they are likely to become overnight advocates.
- The complainer looking for solutions:
This customer really just wants you to fix their problem. They usually have a valid point that needs correction. Likely they have already read your FAQ’s and looked over your site for a way to fix their own issue and have only complained as a last resort.
Note: These are customers you can turn into ADVOCATES if you are good to them. Take care of their needs and use their issue as a way to improve your business. If you can implement some of their changes make sure they know you learned from their criticism.
- The complainer with a cause:
Their cause is 100% themselves. They want something for nothing and are willing to threaten you to get it. Likely you have all heard the “I have a zillion twitter followers and they are going to boycott you” threat.
I have a mixed opinion about how to take care of these guys, but have settled on a three step approach.
- Always listen to their feedback. Do unto others…think of your karma.
- Validate their complaint as though they weren’t opening with a “What are you going to do to take care of me?” Beyond their desire to gain from a challenge, there may be a chance for you to learn from this.
- If you can fix their issue do so, if you can’t because it is from the land of unicorns explain that and offer them a refund. Void their contract. Do what whatever you have to do to end the relationship NOW (I can hear your shock and awe). In the long run breaking up with a customer is sometimes the best thing you can do. Their only public complaint when you follow this process is “They couldn’t make me happy so they gave me back my money.”
This isn’t a real complaint. Their zillion twitter followers won’t care, and in the long run you won’t deal with a barrage of complaints from the land of unicorns on a monthly cycle because they want their free stuff fix again.
Each and every customer complaint is a chance to improve your product or service. Don’t approach them as something that you have to avoid. Look to them as something that will make both you and your business better.
Getting new customers and clients is hard (and expensive) work. Put the same level of effort in making your existing customers happy as you do in new customer engagement and you are going to have more business than you know what to do with.
I have talked about great online service in the past you can hear about my awesome rollergirl.ca experience here. Service so good I’ve gone back more than once and personally talk people into buying from them.