It does not take working years and years in retail to come across this age old saying or to understand its meaning. “The customer is always right.” Period. It goes right along with the law of being innocent until proven guilty. The greater majority of your customers are honest people just trying to get a good deal on a great product or service. You are providing something great so stand behind it. You know its great 99.9% of the time but what about that 0.01%? It is possible that it broke in that strange, absurd way that your customer described.
So what does this have to do with marketing? Your customers are your greatest marketing tools. You must treat them with great service. If your customer is treated like a lying criminal, his first course of action is going to be writing a bad review. He’ll put it on your website. He’ll put it on your competitor’s website. He will write a blog about it. These things are bad, I repeat BAD for your business.
Depending on the nature of your customer’s complaint, it is far easier to go above and beyond to fix the issue than to deal with the fallout from bad reviews spreading like wildfire across the internet. There are three very important steps to take to ensure your business name is not the next victim in the blogging world.
•Apologize. A heartfelt apology should be what the customer hears from you. Accept responsibility for what happened. Do not blame it on your vendor or shipper or any other source you can come up with. It was in your hands to sell. It was yours to get perfectly to the customer.
•Ask these exact words: “How can I correct this for you?” By putting the reins in the customers’ hands, it is nearly impossible to fail at keeping them happy. Some demands may be simple to handle and likely are the way you would have handled the claim in the first place. Others may be more difficult. You may need to get creative but try to always have at least one option left for the customer, even if all you can do is offer 10% off a replacement purchase, you are still attempting to keep the customer as your customer and not your competitors.
•Follow up with your customer. Make it a habit to e-mail or call your customers 30 to 60 days after their complaint was handled. This shows that you took their concern seriously and that you are interested in continuing business with them in the future.
A successful problem resolution can turn the tables on that bad review. Instead, the review you receive will state how quickly and effectively you handled the complaint. You cannot prevent a product from ever breaking but you can prevent a customer from undoing every positive marketing attempt you’ve established.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She has spent time working for major media news outlets in Dallas and Houston