How do you deal with awkward customers?

All business owners, despite their best efforts, occasionally face dissatisfaction from their clients. It’s how you respond to the disappointment or mistake that determines whether there will ever be an opportunity for a reprieve.

A mismatch between a customer’s expectations and your business philosophy can have major implications for your future relationship. But in this economic climate, is it worth cultivating such a customer and turning them into a good client or are we better off letting them remain an infrequent buyer?

Is it sensible to take on every customer that comes through the door or do we still need to put in procedures to find out whether people are going to be good customers or awkward?

The important thing to remember is to put everything in writing so people’s expectations from the sale to the delivery of the product or service are understood by the customer and the supplier. Businesses should be as explicit as they possibly can about what they can and can’t provide and what a particular product includes or excludes so there can be no confusion once delivery has taken place.

Once someone has complained it gives you a great opportunity to turn them into a good customer because if they’ve taken the chance to express their unhappiness at least they feel sufficiently interested to complain rather than walk away.

Many angry or dissatisfied customers are venting their frustration or anger at things outside of the situation – perhaps in their personal lives – and if you take the time to listen and empathise it can often take the sting out of the tail and you can then move forward.

It’s important the complaint is acted on immediately and follow-up is therefore essential. When responding to dissatisfied customers, it’s far better to use the phone rather than email however a quick email to say you’re looking into the problems will bide you time and allow for things to calm down.

Perhaps there is no such thing as a difficult customer and perhaps all complaining customers can be turned into valuable customers for the future.

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  1. #1 by Meagan Lanchbery on December 8, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    I really like this post

    “Once someone has complained it gives you a great opportunity to turn them into a good customer because if they’ve taken the chance to express their unhappiness at least they feel sufficiently interested to complain rather than walk away.”

    Most times, unsatisfied customers just disappear, never to be heard from again.

    So when an unhappy customer comes calling, be sure to thank them – they are giving you a second chance to make things right.

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