If you run a business long enough and regardless of how well you run it, at some point, you and/or your employees will make a mistake.  The question isn’t, “When will you make a mistake?”, The important question is, “How will you handle it?”!

Stew Leonard, founder, and creator of the most successful grocery stores in the world, has a 5-foot piece of engraved granite at the entrance of each of his stores. On it reads this: OUR POLICY Rule 1- The Customer is Always Right.  Rule 2- If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule 1.

Nearly every study shows that today’s consumers are more willing to try new products and companies. This, along with consumers becoming more demanding, makes it harder to keep them satisfied.

In business, next to finding good employees, new customers are the hardest thing to come by. When you get them, do everything in your power to keep them. Stew Leonard learned early on that it was better to have policies in place that rewarded the 99% of honest customers rather than the 1% of dishonest.

When you take care of the “problem”, you turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer.

Ford Motor Company revealed that an unhappy customer who is turned into a happy customer is up to twenty times more loyal than a customer who has never been unhappy.

The key is to have policies in place that have flexibility and then train your staff and empower them to turn the unhappy customer into a happy customer that will tell as many people as possible how well they were treated!

After all, word-of-mouth advertising is still the best form of advertising.  But remember, it works both ways!

13 Rules to Turn Unhappy Customers Into Happy Customers

Turning an unhappy customer into a happy customer can be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies in your entire marketing toolbox!

1.) Stew’s Rule:  1. The customer is always right. 2. When the customer is wrong, refer to rule number one.

2.) Make it easy. Make it easy for your customers to complain. Your customers shouldn’t have to go to a “Complaints Department” to air their beefs. Instead, your entire business should be a “Customer Satisfaction Department”.  Stew Leonard has a “Comment Box” with easy access for all customers to use.  Each Department Manager replies to every comment every day.

3.) Use the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Better yet, “Do unto your customers, as you would do unto your Grandmother”!  The solution is more about feelings than facts. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about how you would feel under the same circumstances.

4.) Train and empower your staff to use these guidelines and solve problems effectively and quickly. Give them guidelines and budgets to work within to resolve customer complaints. Customers don’t want to hear the dreaded, “I’ll have to talk to my manager”, and they certainly don’t want to wait for that to happen. Your employees also feel better about their jobs when they feel empowered to make your unhappy customers happy.

5.) Listen. Don’t interrupt an unhappy customer. Let them vent and take their frustrations out on you, even though you may not have caused the problem.

6.) Listen some more. After your angry customer has gotten their initial complaint off their chest, ask, “Is there anything else?” Very often, the first complaint your customers voice is not the root or underlying cause of their complaint. Keep asking, “Is there anything else?” until ALL the customer’s complaints are on the table.

7.) Apologize. Take responsibility for the problem. Customers don’t want to hear that someone else in your company, or one of your suppliers, created the problem. They bought from you and in their minds it’s up to you to resolve their issues.

8.) Breakeven ain’t enough. Simply returning a customer their money after they have spent their time and money to discover the problem and return to complain is not enough to delight the customer. You must go above and beyond breakeven to delight an unhappy customer. Remember, it costs six times as much to find and attract a new customer as it does to make an unhappy customer happy.

9.) Follow-Up.  Even after making it right, follow up with a phone call after one week and confirm that they are still satisfied!

10.) Do not presuppose a solution. Rather than offering your solution, ask the unhappy customer, “What do we have to do to make you happy?” And be prepared to deliver their solution. More often than not, simply asking them their proposed solution after you’ve let them vent, turns out to be cheaper than the solution you were prepared to offer, simply because they appreciate the fact that you listened and asked!

11.) Never talk about “company policy”. Your customers don’t want to hear about a company policy that prohibits you from solving their issues. Take responsibility and solve the problem. Tell the customer, “Here’s what I can do” rather than, “That’s not our policy.”

12.) Conduct an internal post-mortem. What caused the problem? What systems and processes can be put in place to prevent the situation from occurring again?

13.) 99% of your customers are honest!  Take Care of Them!

At Titan Broadcasting and Digital Group, we believe our responsive, on-going communication with our clients is one of the biggest reasons why our partnerships are so successful. Whenever you need us, we’ll be there by your side to answer your questions and help your business grow in any way we can! www.titanburlington.com/contact-us/