This is one we never want to think will happen to us. But if you do enough transactions with enough customers, someone will be unhappy despite your best efforts. I know a woman who has been in business for nearly three years and recently had her first unhappy customer. It was enough to make her think about closing the doors! She really doesn’t like conflict and found it almost too uncomfortable to bear!
Well, it isn’t worth closing down for one unhappy customer. But let’s agree, we need to think about how to deal with it when it happens. What you do won’t always work, but Seth Godin offers some suggestions on how to change the dynamic (and I’ve included a few points of my own in parentheses):
– Acknowledge the anger (“I can see that you’re very dissatisfied!!”)
– Talk more quietly and slowly than the person you are talking with (I know this works. My son does this to me when I’m angry and raising my voice. Where did he learn that?!)
– Ask the person what it will take to make them happy (“I realize that you wanted Tabby bathed before you picked her up. What can we do that will make it up to you?”)
– Ask if that [whatever they said in response to the previous question] will not only solve their problem, but give you a chance to delight them? (“If we don’t charge you the next time she boards here overnight, would that make it up to you?”)
– If no, then ask what it will take (“What else would we have to do to make you a loyal customer again?”)
– Summarize, human to human. (“Look Sue, I understand you are disappointed that we forgot her grooming. If we didn’t charge you next time she boards with us and we trim her claws while she’s here, would that help?”)
Godin goes on to say, “It´s entirely possible that Sue is so angry she´ll never ever return to your [cat hostel] again. That´s okay. You did what you can… but more important, you didn´t waste a lot of time and emotion and energy trying to solve a problem that´s not solvable.”
Hey, it’s worth a try!