It’s a sad fact: you’re going to encounter customers who are less-than-happy with your products or service. While you can try to offer stellar service, you can’t please everyone. Knowing how to handle disgruntled customers will at least ensure that they don’t tell everyone else not to support your business.
Start By Addressing the Problem
You may assume your employees are always friendly to customers, but you might get feedback from a customer that says otherwise. It’s important for you to get to the root of the issue, and sometimes you have to wade through some emotional sludge to get there.
If a customer is angry, do your best to calm them down and get them talking productively so you can solve the problem.
Find a Solution
Maybe a customer came in to your restaurant celebrate her grandmother’s 100th birthday and had a roach in her filet mignon. While you can’t erase that experience, you can try to offer something to make up for it, like offer another dinner on the house.
If it’s a matter of a customer being unhappy with a product, a simple replacement should suffice. But if they’ve had it with your brand, offer a refund promptly and with no questions asked.
Look Internally to Prevent Future Issues
You can bet if something happened once, it could happen again, so ensure it doesn’t by communicating the issue to your staff and training them on how to better handle this type of situation. If you’ve gotten several complaints about a specific employee, consider firing them, since they’re just damaging your company with bad service.
Mitigate the Damage Online
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t even know a customer has an issue until they leave a negative review on a site like Yelp. This has the potential to be far-reaching in its damage, as people look to review sites to determine if they want to spend money with your brand.
First, publicly address the negative comment professionally. Do not respond emotionally or deny allegations. It will only make you look worse. Instead, apologize for the inconvenience, and offer to right the situation.
If the customer accepts your offer to fix the problem and then is happy with your brand, ask if they are willing to update their review with their new outlook on your company.
Staying on top of unhappy customers is the best way to keep them happy and improve your company’s service.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.