Monday, February 3, 2014

Turn that frown upside down!

So we were talking about dissatisfied customers. It happens. As much as you'd like to only speak with folks who love what you're doing, you'll have to deal with some who are a little less in love with you. But you can use some good technique to get that guy back into the good zone.

First, go out of your way to try to contact the customer to have the initial conversation. Don’t make your customer come looking for you. Especially if you are part of a company with any reasonable size, locating the right person in charge may be dang near impossible for your customers. By the time they get lost in your support voicemail hell, or try to push something up the line through your sales channel, or whatever, they may give up on both you and your company. You know they’ll be happy to tell their friends all about it.

I actually got my first lesson in this back when I was in college and supervising one of our city’s swimming pools. One woman was unfortunate enough to receive a car wash from a poorly aimed lawn sprinkler. Problem was, her car windows were open. I thought I did everything right. I apologized. I sent a crew of lifeguards to her car with towels. And I gave her the names and phone numbers of everyone to call at the city offices the next day (it was a weekend). Later that day, when describing the situation to my manager, he responded with, “Wouldn’t it have been easier to take her information and then we would have the right city folks call her?” Duh. I put the onus on her, when I should have left it in our hands.

You need to be on the lookout for customers that are getting into trouble and might need proactive contacting. Ensure that your service and sales folks know that you need to be kept in the loop as early as possible on customers that might be degenerating. Maybe you can get a weekly report on “hot customers”, or maybe you have some sort of CRM system that will allow you to automatically generate notifications or reports of big issues out in the wild. Whatever you do, do something.
 Hi Joe, this is Ed with XYZ Systems. I noticed that you had filed a number of problem reports recently, and I just wanted to talk with you about your business, what you're doing with our products, and any suggestions you might have for what we could change or do better.
Seeing something going wrong, and proactively contacting the customer about it will leave your customer absolutely amazed.

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