Minimising fallout from an unhappy customer interaction

Unhappy customers are a fact of life in business. As customers, we’ve all been there ourselves… perhaps a product didn’t stack up to our expectations, maybe delivery was frustratingly delayed, or perhaps we were simply having a bad day.

Whatever the real reason behind customer dissatisfaction, your approach to dealing with it can make or break your outcomes.

10 steps to minimise the fallout of an unhappy customer:

1. Step into their shoes.
Put aside your prejudices and assumptions. You don’t know what they're thinking or feeling.

2. Be calm.
Breathe deeply and remain above the line. Don’t stoop, react, or take it personally, it will only make things worse.

3. Listen carefully.
Seek first to understand (even if you think you know what they’re going to say). Actively listening will enable you to frame a resolve specifically for them.

4. Repeat or rephrase to show you heard them.
Bounce the ball back to gain further clarification. It’s likely the tone of their response will relax as they sense you want to help.

5. Thank them for voicing their concern.
Simply acknowledge their time and patience as you seek to fix the issue. This will be appreciated and can help build rapport.

6. Summarise outcomes and next steps.
Devise a plan to try and resolve the issue for your customer. Put them at ease!

7. Show authenticity.
Be genuine. Act as though your favourite customers are watching. Essentially potential customers will hear about the experience through the eyes of the particular customer anyway - whether it’s positive or negative.

8. Cut your losses.
Some people are unpleasable - these aren’t your target customers. A refund or apology goes a long way to avoid a negative online review, but consider removing them from marketing lists.

9. Get support.
If, despite your efforts, a customer is acting or speaking aggressively, it’s okay to tap out and escalate the issue to a manager. This may cause the customer to take a much-needed breath.

10. Seize the chance to improve!
Change your mindset. There is always room for improvement. Demonstrating your desire to improve will prove to the customer that you really care.

A disgruntled customer is a massive opportunity. Acting fast to find a resolution enables you to deliver beyond their expectation, turning an unhappy customer into a raving advocate.

"To the customer, YOU are the company." - Shep Hyken

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