Complaints - Degrees of losing.
© 2006 David Peterson
I'm a pretty good salesman, and a darn good sales manager, but I am the
best complaint solver you will ever meet. I have been on every type
of complaint you can imagine. Complaints typically
start off unpleasant. My job is to save the customer. In my consumer
product years, I have driven up in my company car and have had
customers yell at me before I even open the door. I have had to ask
the complaining customer on the phone if I should bring the sheriff
with me. I have had people actually crying before I had the chance
to look at the problem. In my web hosting years when a server went
down the customers would just scream and scream. They all had sites
that were losing thousands of dollars a second. I have had web
designers run scripts that will take a server down then blame it on
the hosting company because the script worked at
every other host they have ever had.
What do I think about all of the complaining people and what makes
me so good at solving their issues? The following 5 golden rules
will help you become great at solving complaints. The first two are
easy, the next three take skill:
1)The customer is always right! (Even when they are wrong!)
2)I understand that before I even contact the complaining customer I
can't "win." Complaints are really just degrees of losing.
3)Listen to the complaint. When I say listen I mean shut up and let
the customer speak uninterrupted. Even if they are yelling at the
top of their lungs just sit there and take it. This could take 20
seconds or it could take 20 minutes. The point that you have heard
it all before so you can go ahead and interrupt the customer to move
on is moot. This particular customer wants to tell you their
problem. They don't care if you have heard it before they want you
to hear it from them. If you interrupt they will just get madder and
you know what - you will get madder too. But if you just sit there
and take it in...the complaining customer will eventually tell you
what went wrong. Through all of the "...your company is
responsible for this mess...," and the "...you are going
to pay for that....," you will actually hear, if you wait long
enough, what the customer did to your product to make it not perform as planned.
Works every time, the complaining customer actually tells on
themselves. Once they have stopped talking and they have told on
themselves its time to move to the next step. You know when you can move on if you can have 5 seconds of complete silence. Use this
rule: Don't say anything after the customer has stopped talking for
5 long seconds then move on with educating the customer.
4)If you have completed #3 successfully the customer has told you
what went wrong with the product. Now its time to educate the
customer on how the product should have performed. The education
process is critical in solving the complaint. It's critical because
the customer is going to have to use your product to finish the job.
You know you have sold a lot of these items so you know it works.
How your customer is working your product may be a different answer.
Remember this is a complaint and the customer assumes he did
everything right. Your goal here should be to explain how the
product was intended to work. Don't admit that your product has problems in specific areas but point out to the customer that had it
been done this way (not his way) it would have worked. When
"educating" the customer be careful not to offend them.
They are already a bit touchy so if they are trying to make a strong
point just let them. It's during the education process where you
have to make the distinction between your product and others as
well. When the customer says this other product worked extremely
well, you then say "you know I heard that was a great
product." Don't get into a competitive product match or you
will be back at the listening section again. The point of the
educational process is if you are refunding money or giving more
product away the customer will know how to do it next time and will
thank you for the advice. You will need the thank you because the
hard part is coming.
5) The hard part is the settlement of the complaint. Now if you have
done steps 3 and 4 correctly the settlement should be fairly easy.
However I'm a realist and you probably have some work to do here.
Remember complaints are degrees of losing. You have lost your
time, your money, your patience and most of all your reputation. The
customer has also lost those items and they are gone for good as far
as your product is concerned. Since you are going to lose something,
the degree of your loss is up to you. In your settlement the bottom line is to be fair and equitable and let the customer know that this
is fair (yes you are in sales so sell the fair factor). During the
settlement phase you may get to sell the customer an upgrade, or
more product or whatever. In a losing situation that is the best you
are going to do. More often you end up giving away product, extra
months, full refunds or whatever. You and your customer have lost regardless
if you were able to sell something or give something away. It took
so long, so much effort to gain even that complaining customer that
you owe it to yourself and your company to salvage some type of
relationship. If you can agree on an equitable solution then you may
still have that customer for life and that adds to the bottom line
in any business.
In conclusion complaints are just degrees of losing. However, by
using the 5 rules above you will become much better at solving
complaints. If you get better then you will protect the bottom line.
It's the bottom line that counts in business.
Been There - Done That
Peterson's Search Engine Optimization Guide
send all correspondence to: email@example.com
There - Done That
START A HOME-BASED INTERNET BUSINESS
This eBook is
filled with actual case studies that will show you
the mistakes that can happen when starting a
business. Why make these same mistakes that I
already have made ! Save yourself the time,
energy, and money.
BUSINESS A CHANCE
Peterson's Search Engine Optimization Guide for
the Beginning Webmaster is a MUST
Do you have
unlimited funds to spend on Pay Per Click
free copy of David Peterson's SEO guide by