Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning …says Bill Gates
By TRISOFT team
In any business, there comes a time when the relationship between the company and the client goes through a difficult period. Whether you’ve implemented changes that you deem necessary but not everyone agrees with, or focused on one side of the activity to the detriment of others, whatever the cause may be, the most important and efficient thing you can do is have a genuine and open discussion with your clients and take their criticism as something inspiring you to be more competent and valuable. Negative situations must be turned into positive customer experience.
Listen to the negatives
People who tell you what you need to hear, although it may be unpleasant, are much more helpful than those who tell you what you want to hear. Positive opinions are awesome, but negative remarks are your biggest source of growth, because they teach you what you should be doing in order to improve and meet the specific needs of clients.
The middle ground
The first thing you need to do is find out what’s wrong ahead of time, instead of just waking up one day and discovering your biggest customer just terminated his relationship with you, without any explanation. Set in place systems and people who seek feedback and offer options for improvement.
Most of the times, clients want your relationship to work — that’s why they contracted you in the first place. There will always be signs of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, which have to be met with the right channels for expressing grievances. When a customer complains, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will abandon you — in fact, it’s a sign of commitment. They are taking the time to point out what has happened, what has caused them frustration and thus, suggest that they want the business relationship to work. Work together and find a middle ground.
Don’t be defensive and listen to what the problems are, while trying to find solutions. Criticism isn’t meant to bring down your business, but rather identify your weak spots — which you may not be aware of — and therefore strengthen your company. The essential idea in any business is to continuously learn, and do your best to improve.
Moreover, you should know that a simple apology won’t make the situation any better, if you just keep on repeating the same mistake — complaints from unhappy customers are best solved by bettering the product or service that makes the object of the complaint. Discover what the clients need and why they don’t like what you are offering anymore, because it’s the only way to make progress in the long run.
Learn your lessons
After all, your main objective is to have as many customers as possible, for as long as possible. For what is a business without its clients? It is general known that happy customers may or may not share their great experiences, but unhappy ones will, by word of mouth, dissuade dozens of others to have faith in your brand. You will therefore lose potential clients, opportunities and profits, indirectly, but all due to your inability to satisfy and keep loyal customers; this is what “learning a lesson the hard way” means. In order for that not to happen, you need to become proactive and identify flaws, discontentment and complaints early on, and try to improve and build on them.
Embrace any opportunity for directly discussing problems with clients. Learn to really listen and understand what the origin of the displeasure is, and show genuine care, attention and compassion. Customers won’t appreciate being referred to an impersonal, automated call center, where someone makes an inventory of their objections, writes them down in a list somewhere, only to be brushed off for eternity and never handled properly. The handler of the problem must never say “well, sorry, that’s all I could do for you, you’ll have to settle with that” — if the client isn’t happy with the solution or the management of his complaint, there must always be a senior staff member available to take over and investigate matters further. And if that doesn’t work, take the situation into your own hands — after all, who can deal with the problem better than you? That would be an optimization of the customer service process.
However, sometimes, it’s important to recognize when you should let go and choose separation as the best solution. Certain differences of opinions cannot be solved, people tend to develop in their own irreconcilable directions, and that is when cutting your losses and moving on is the best course of action. But make sure this is truly the case, and you are not just judging things rashly, based on your hurt feelings or disagreement with the criticism received from a customer. A clear understanding and open communication will ensure you have made the right decision.
Business relationships won’t develop naturally, by themselves, if left alone. They must be nurtured, maintained and fixed, if something isn’t working right. Business owners must take all necessary measures to make sure their clients remain happy and satisfied, and that they listen to unhappy and unsatisfied ones, using their feedback to enhance their services, their products, their processes, and the entire manner in which they function.
At TRISOFT, we encourage you to not only accept, but seek out feedback, be it positive or negative, because it’s the only way you can learn about your weak and strong points, improve them, and thus grow and develop in all aspects of your business.