Every small business has customers or clients. (Most retail businesses have customers; most non-retail businesses have clients). However you define your relationship with the people who buy from you, they will, at some point, need some extra “tender loving care” (TLC). The customer or client will believe:
• something they purchased doesn’t work properly
• what they got isn’t what they ordered
• your website is broken
• a service you performed isn’t delivering the results they expected
While the details of customer and client service differ—because the relationships differ—many of the basics apply to both.
Your response in these situations can impact your business majorly. Respond correctly and you’ll have made a friend for life. Buyers whose problems were resolved satisfactorily typically exhibit greater loyalty than those who didn’t experience a problem in the first place.
The reverse is true, too.
Whether the issue is resolved satisfactorily or not, people who’ve experienced a problem with your business will talk about it. They might post about it on social media, mention it to colleagues or peers at work, their boss or the purchasing department. So when you learn of a problem, it’s not just the one relationship that’s at stake, it’s future business.
As an example, consider the restaurant patron who reports a problem with the food. If the manager acknowledges, apologizes, replaces the meal and comps the bill, it could be a best-case scenario. Statistically, the patron is more likely to return more often than if there was no cause for complaint.
So consider a few basics:
• Accept the inevitable. Complaints happen; they’re an intrinsic part of businesses. You can’t account for all the variables that cause each one. Learn what you can from each incident—revise procedures to avoid it from happening again—but it’s counterproductive to obsess about eliminating complaints altogether. Complaints are often your friend.
• Take responsibility. In nearly all cases, it doesn’t matter why the problem occurred. As the business owner, you get the best results by accepting responsibility for fixing the issue—even if it stems more from the customer’s or client’s state of mind than your service or product.
• Respond authentically. This is business. Put your feelings aside. Professionals are trained to deliver TLC with a smile. You can fix an issue gracefully or grudgingly. Either way, the customer or client will pick up on it and respond accordingly.
• Fix it promptly and decisively. Like the restaurant manager in the hypothetical example, problem resolution is not something you do half-heartedly. Acknowledge that the problem occurred. Tell the customer or client exactly how you’ll resolve it. Follow through immediately. And check in afterward to be sure it was resolved satisfactorily.
• Solicit feedback actively. By encouraging people to speak up, you reduce the number of clients and customers who experienced a problem and chose not to mention it. You also signal to your entire universe that you take quality seriously. It’s an element of continuous quality improvement: feedback you receive can often clue you in to an emerging issue that had gone unnoticed. So you have an opportunity to resolve current problems as well as prevent future ones.
No matter what industry or service, owning a business is filled with opportunities to turn complaints around. At Expansion Capital Group, we can help you secure financing that supports a solid customer service mindset. Contact us at (877) 204-9203 to learn about available options for establishing, buying or growing your business.