Having an unhappy customer in your inbox lambasting you about the quality of your product or service is tough.
Now, if you are a big brand like Amazon or Modcloth, you have the economies of scale to be fairly unaffected by the complaint of one customer, not to mention a whole team of people purely dedicated to dealing with dissatisfied customers.
But what about small business owners?
People who run a 1-2 person operation with no customer support desk, and have a fairly new reputation in the marketplace? Well the consquences can be far more dire if unhappy customers take to social media to let it be known to everyone who will listen just how much you suck at #customerservice .
In this article I’ll share with you five strategies you can use to turn your unhappy customers into raving brand fans who will not only spend more money with you, but bring in other sales. You’ll also find some email swipe copy that you may find helpful to save for a later date.
This may seem like common sense, but sadly when it comes to customer service common sense can often be lacking. One of the biggest issues for a customer is feeling like they are not being listened to, and one the biggest mistakes many eCommerce merchants make is: forgetting what it’s like to be the customer.
Wherever possible acknowledge customer complaints within 24hrs–even if it will take a little longer to resolve the issue. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to find ..err…nice little Tweets like this doing the round of the interwebzs.
This can be tough especially when you’re waking up to angry streams of consciousness in your inbox from customers who clearly seem determined to make you feel as bad as possible.
Back away from your inbox. Calm down, and then respond to your customer in a way that is representative of what your brand stands for. It’s unlikely that your brand is abrasive, defensive and rude, so don’t let your irritation get the better of you and let you reply in this way.
If there is one sure fire way to make sure you’re unable to turn a negative customer situation around, it’s responding to them with anger and irritation.
Stay open, stay friendly, stay communicative – even if they are behaving otherwise. Easier said than done, I know!
This is one my favourite tactics, especially as when done correctly this can lead to increased sales. Let me explain – quite often if a customer makes a complaint there’s an assumption (from the sellers side) that they want a refund, but oftentimes that’s not the case – at least not initially
The thing is, if a person has spent hours finding the perfect item for them, rarely do they want a refund they simply to receive what they were expecting. By asking how they’d like to resolve the situation, you immediately position your brand as one that listens to its customers – even if you’re not able to resolve the problem in exactly they way they’d like.
Here’s an example:
A customer wants to return a top that doesn’t fit properly and she hasn’t worn it. You ask her how she’d like to solve the problem and she says she’d like a refund. The top is outside of the 14-day refund period so that won’t be possible, however, now you know exactly what she wants you’re able to let her know this won’t be possible-clearly pointing out your returns policy-before offering alternative solutions.
…And this is where you can take a complaint and turn it into another sale
“Hi, x, unfortunately we’re unable to do a refund due to our 14-day returns policy, but we’re more than happy to change the size or give you a store credit for use at a later date. As a small gesture of our appreciation of your business, I’ve created a 25% discount code (good for six months) that you can use for your next purchase with us.
This is your chance to turn-up the customer service in a way that is head and shoulders above your competitors and the bigger guys who don’t have the time to follow-up personally with each customer. I find the sweet spot to be three days after your last communication, and this can be something as simple as:
“Hey, just to let you know your new top has been packaged with care and is ready to send to you. I just wanted to confirm that you’ve sent the unsuitable one back so we can get the new size in the post for you – let me know if you had any difficulties?”
What you say will be specific to the customer and situation, but the point of this follow-up is about letting them know that the complete resolution of this situation is important for you. This type of personalised interaction becomes harder to do as your business grows, but done early on it can win you brand fans for life.
Now here’s where things get exciting, and where you take a complaint and turn it into a PR exercise and sales generator.
Damaging ommissions done the right way:
Most companies seek to keep their customer complaints secret, but if you’re focused on providing great customer service you really don’t have to. In fact, you can use them to ramp up the know, like and trust factor with your brand and business, and increase sales.
Here is just one way you can do this:
“We don’t always get it right, but we do listen to our customers”. We love that our customers let us know when we didn’t live up to their expectation. Thanks @customername ! Now as a little token of our appreciation we are offering ?% of (product) for the next (48hrs). Don’t thank us, you can thank (customer name) she made it possible.
And boom! just like that you’ve turned a complaint into a way to build brand loyalty, increase brand awareness, and improve sales. If you follow all the other steps then tie it up with something like this, you can pretty much guarantee your customer & their friends/family will share their experience with you, and now it’s no longer a bad story, but a story of exemplary service.
So there you have it, five detailed steps you can take to turn unhappy customers into a raving super fans and make more sales in the process.
We’d love to know your secrets to customer success, let us know in the comments?