How to Save an Unhappy Client

Every business occasionally makes a mistake that results in a very unhappy customer. But how to you take an angry customer who heatedly tells you he will never do business with you again and turn him into a repeat customer who says you’re the best business he’s ever dealth with? It can be done, and it's easier than you might think.

Author and sales consultant John Tschohl calls it "service recovery". He says this effective tool can instantly change an angry client into a loyal customer. The key to putting a smile on a costumer’s face after your company has made an error is to solve the customer’s problem in 60 seconds or less upon hearing the complaint and offer some compensation. It’s more powerful than simply saying you’re sorry, and much more effective than promising a solution at a later time. Here are the essential elements.

  • Act Quickly. The employee at the point of contact is in the best position to implement an effective solution. The customer who’s issue is immediately dealt with will always walk away happy. Avoid moving problems and complaints up the chain of command.
  • Take Responsibility. Offer a sincere apology and take responsibility, no matter who is a fault. Don’t place blame, offer excuses or point out the customers misunderstanding. Thank the customer for pointing out the problem.
  • Let the Customer Know that You Can Help. All employees in your organization who come in contact with customers must be empowered to act. The customer who receives immediate help from their first employee contact will feel well served. The customer who must wait until the issue can be taken up with a manager will remain upset and angry.
  • Compensate Immediately. Fix the problem, but add something of value to compensate for the customer’s inconvenience. Make the compensation something that will not cost you too much, but will mean a lot in the customer’s eyes. Set aside six or eight products or services with a high perceived value that can be given away as compensation. 

By using service recovery techniques and empowering every employee to respond immediately to customer complaints you can instantly create a client who will be happy and loyal. They will tell others how well they were treated, and will remember this exceptional service far longer than the error that triggered it.