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By Brian Edmondson
A customer walked into Hannah’s store with a snow globe she had bought. But something wasn’t right. Hannah could tell just by the look on the customer’s face.
The figurine in the snow-globe was turned around backwards. And the customer was MAD.
Hannah took the snow-globe turned the winder on the bottom and handed it back to the customer with the figurine on the inside spinning to the music.
The customer got even angrier.
She walked out of the store in a huff and called back and screamed at Hannah for an hour. Hannah eventually calmed the customer down, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun.
Ever experience anything like this? I have and I’ll bet you dimes to dollars that if you have been in any kind of business for any length of time, so have you.
Difficult customers can turn a fun business into a nightmare really fast. But if you have a strategy in place for dealing with them, it becomes much easier to handle.
Here’s how to avoid the nightmare and quickly handle no good, rotten, simply terrible customers.
1. Identify potential problems
The easiest way to not have to deal with problem customers is to not have problem customers in the first place. If you are getting a lot of similar customer complaints then you need to look at your systems and figure out a way to address the complaint before it happens.
For instance, if you have a continuity program and people are complaining about the recurring charges you may need to change your copy so that they understand exactly when and how they are going to be charged.
By addressing common complaints upfront in your sales process you will eliminate many headaches down the road.
2. Execute great customer service
Make sure that you are easy to contact, and that you respond quickly to any customer comments or issues. When customers feel heard and responded to they are far less likely to escalate a situation.
Even a small note answering their questions can really help make a big, big difference when it comes to keeping customers happy. So get out your typing fingers and be sure to promptly respond to all customer inquiries. It’s just the decent thing to do.
3. Use follow up sequences
No matter what kind of product you are delivering (digital, physical, or service) make sure you are using automated follow up sequences to minimize questions.
Amazon.com does this very well. They provide an email when each product ships so that you know when you are getting your order. They also follow up after you’ve received you’re item to get feedback and drive you back to the site.
Almost any business can use follow up sequences to their advantage. A carpet cleaner could send a confirmation email for the appointment time, a survey after the service, and discount coupons throughout the year. And an information marketer can use autoreponders to let people know exactly how to access content and when new content is posted.
4. Listen – Listen – Listen
Most customers want to be heard more than anything else. If you have a customer complaint make sure you take the time to really read their email or listen to their phone call. Try to figure out what the real concern is underneath the stated concern. This is especially important if the customer seems very upset. There is often more going on than meets the eye.
In Hannah’s case -the customer was so angry because she felt that Hannah had made her look stupid. Once Hannah got to the bottom of the situation (by listening) she was able to calm the customer down and resolve the situation.
5. Remember to look in the mirror
This one is tough, but sometimes there are things that we do to attract terrible customers. Perhaps we are too accommodating, or maybe our front end sales process doesn’t eliminate the right people. Maybe there is a personality clash that can be improved.
If you keep having the same kind of customer crop up over and over again, then chances are good that you may be doing something to make that happen. So take a good long look in the mirror and see where it is that you can improve.
6. Understand your own limits
No matter how good you are at preventing crazy customers, there will always be a few that come around. It’s the nature of people.
It’s important to understand what you will and will not do to make a customer happy. When you know these limits ahead of time you can stay calm and just enforce the rules you already have in place.
For instance, you may have an information marketing business where you give people a voucher to redeem a consultation with you. Once in a while you will get a customer where they repeatedly don’t follow the process of using the voucher, but just pepper you with questions…. Those types of customers may not be people you want to deal with.
By knowing this upfront you can easily get rid of the worst customers calmly and efficiently. Our brains don’t always engage in the heat of a situation. Having a plan in place before we get to crazy customers helps us to handle them with tact and grace.
7. Be willing to refund and fire customers
Sometimes a customer just isn’t worth dealing with. If you find this to be the case, the best thing to do is politely refund their money and tell them that you will no longer be dealing with them as a customer.
This can be a scary process, but it is also a very freeing one. There is nothing better than getting a draining person out of your life. When you fire a problem customer they become someone else’s problem instead of your own. How great is that?
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. But sometimes when people hand over their money they get a little weird. By making sure that your sales processes and delivery of your product is smooth you can eliminate many customer problems right up front. By knowing what you will and will not deal with when it comes to customers you can eliminate the rest.
Business should be fun, and it should let you live the lifestyle that you desire. Making sure you are taking care of your customers goes a long way toward that goal.