Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” This is a statement that all business people should take to heart, especially if they want to succeed and profit. Being teachable is necessary to becoming successful.
Four Steps Business People Can Take to Make Things Right with Unhappy Customers
- Acknowledge the mistake (remember the customer is always right)
- Apologize and make a sincere effort to bring restitution
- Provide an answer or solution that the customer will accept
- Make every effort to follow up on your promise to the customer
Lesson #1 Learn What’s Important to Your Customers
Listening skills are important. What are the issues your customer is complaining about? Were there complaints about shipping costs or poor customer service? A smart business person will keep track of customer complaints and ascertain various trends. For example, have you received several complaints regarding the same issue? If that is the case, then you know you have a problem and can work toward resolving the issues. Showing your customers that you are willing to listen to them, will go a long way toward reconciling the situation and hopefully keeping them as customers.
Lesson #2 Learn How to Improve Your Customer Service
Listening to customer complaints should bring business people one step closer to finding ways to improve on customer service. What type of complaints have you received? Maybe your customers have complained about being on hold for too long. If that is the case and if it’s in the budget, consider hiring more customer service reps. If that is not an option, hold a seminar or lunch and learn on developing better customer service techniques so that reps can increase their call volume. Fixing your customer service issues, will boost your sales and business reputation.
Lesson #3 Learn How to Improve Your Products or Services
Sometimes you’ll find that customers have issues with your product or services. This is not the time to take offense and become defensive. It’s the time to be open to constructive criticism. Of course, you cannot satisfy everyone all the time. However, if there are legitimate issues with your product and services, it’s smart to see how you can fix them. Maybe some of the complaints were about difficult product assembly directions or faulty product parts. If that is the case, consider going back to the drawing board and reengineering the product design.
Lesson #4 Learn Ways to Improve Sales of your Products or Services
Your customers can be the best focus group to help you get the edge on the most efficient way to market your products or services. Marketing experts are great resources. However, business people can learn many lessons from carefully listening to their customers. Your marketing efforts are geared toward your target market—which is your customers. They can tell you exactly what marketing efforts are working and which ones are not. Of course, you want to go about ascertaining this information in the right way. One suggestion is to periodically request that your customers complete surveys and ask them targeted questions. Learn from the information you hear from your customers and you can then improve on your marketing campaigns and sales methods.
Resources for Business Owners to Succeed and Prosper
As a small business owner, I have met with a business advisor at my local Score chapter. It was an extremely helpful mentoring experience for me as I was counseled on how to go from the idea stages to starting a business. Visit the Score website to find a local chapter near you. There are 320 chapters with over 11,000 volunteers looking to help business people just like you. Score offers how-to resources, tools, templates and a chance to be mentored by an established business counselor. This is a free service. The US Small Business Administration is another great source for business owners who are in need of learning resources. You can visit their website SBA.Gov for more details.
Customers are your bread and butter. They buy your products and services. The bottom line—if you’re not making sales, you’re not making money. Not making money is a sure way to go out of business fast. A smart business person takes the time to learn lessons from his or her customers. By listening to your customers, you will learn how to improve your customer service techniques, create improved products and services and utilize better sales methods. Remember, that the customer always knows best!
Photo Credit: Front Point Security
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