To pull a one-eighty with a customer who is already upset for one reason or another takes a measure of skill and a great deal of patience, but this is the epitome of truly taking care of a customer. We could break down the process into a semantic, long-winded sequence of steps, but to be effective, these 4 basic steps are really all you need.
1. Forget About Winning
The first idea you have to expel from your mind, when you have a conflict with a customer, is winning. Every business owner understands this intellectually, but in that moment when someone is filling your ear with all the reasons that they’ve been wronged by the business, it can quickly become a useless battle of opposing arguments on either side.
Those of us with strong personalities have a switch that gets flipped as soon as someone, even a customer, takes a position contrary to our own. We immediately want to argue with the person, and we want to win.
It’s not usually easy, but you have to ignore the impulse to win and instead make it your goal to resolve the conflict amicably.
2. A Peace Offering
What the customer needs in times like this is a show of good faith. What they are looking for, always, is for you to DO something that will prove to them that you genuinely want to help them.
More times than not, an apology and a gift card, a credit, or some form of a discount will do the trick, after truly hearing the person out. It may take a little more than that. There are a multitude of scenarios, so it depends on the situation.
3. Do a Little Extra
It’s one thing to bring a customer from a disgruntled emotional state down to neutral, which is an impressive feat as it is, but to send the person away actually happy and completely squash the conflict, you have to exceed their expectations.
Maybe after you give the customer a refund, you then also give them a credit towards their next purchase with you. Not only is that a show of goodwill, but you’re drawing them back in to give you their continued business.
4. Follow Up
Neglecting to follow up with a customer after a conflict is kind of like taking someone out on a date, buying them dinner, and then never calling them again. When you don’t check in with your customer after the incident, you send them mixed signals and basically tell them that they don’t matter that much.
Drop the person a message or a call after a week or two and see if everything is still good—find out what went wrong in the first place. There aren’t many customer retention methods that are more effective than the follow-up.