Tips for Turning Unhappy Customers into Customers for Life
Dealing with angry customers is never pleasant, but it’s a reality for franchise business owners. You probably have handled upset or angry customers if you own a franchise business. And if you haven’t yet, you will. But it doesn’t have to be all that bad.
Get Off on the Right Foot
Realize that an angry customer is usually not unhappy with you, but in most cases with the situation or the company. We shouldn’t take hostility personally. We become the lightening rod, not the target.
You can do a great deal to diffuse a customer’s anger by keeping a slight smile on your face before you handle the situation.
Customers find it more difficult to be rude or upset with someone who is warm and friendly than stone-faced and rude. Below is my ASAP Technique method for dealing with irate customers.
Apologize and Acknowledge
A: Apologize and acknowledge the client’s situation, feelings and what happened. This is a MUST and KEY to defusing!
We will spend more than 80% of the time smoothing the prospect, customer’s or client’s feelings and about 20% of the time working on the problem.
And PLEASE REMEMBER: The apology needs to be immediate. Don’t wait to apologize. If we fouled up, ADMIT it. Take ownership.
Apologize. And notice we use the word “apologize,” not “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry” is when we step on someone’s toes. “I’m sorry” is not effective when there’s a major, or even minor, problem, concern or issue with a client.
Sympathize and/or Empathize
S: Sympathize and/or empathize. Know and learn the difference.
Sympathy is something you feel sorry for. Empathy is something you have also experienced as they did. Notice I said, “ALSO.”
Example: When my father passed away. A friend of mine was at the funeral and came up to me to tell me: “Oh, I’m so sorry Nancy. I know just how you feel.”
I got upset and told her: “Myrna, your father is sitting right over there; you cannot possibility know how I feel.”
It would have been better to hear, “Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss; I can’t imagine how you feel,” rather than to have her tell me she knows ‘how I feel.’ No one can do that. No one.
“I understand how you feel” and/or “I know exactly how you feel” are frustrating comments to anyone, let alone a client or customer. DROP IT!
Accept the Responsibility
A: Accept the responsibility immediately and every time! Don’t wait. Whenever you handle a client, you represent the company 100% of the time. You ARE responsible.
Accept the responsibility by saying: “Let me see how I can help. My name is ______. I’m the (fill in your title).
If you’re on the phone, to get a name, you should introduce yourself first. If you have a title, this is a good time to use it. It will create credibility.
Introducing yourself FIRST will help speed up the rapport building process. (Even if you said your name, the customer/client might have forgotten it because they have lots going on in their life. So it’s a good idea to re-introduce yourself.) Unless, of course, you’ve been in a long-term relationship with the client.
Prepare to Help
P: Prepare to help: Indicating you sincerely care about the situation helps a lot—immediate assistance counts. Using the customer’s name also helps diffuse the situation. Mispronouncing will only certainly add salt to the wound!
Asking “What was your name again?” does not help the situation. It makes for more frustration. Listen to the name the first time and jot it down if you can.
Then start asking questions:
“Thanks, Mr. Jones. Again, my name is ______. Let’s get started and see how I can help you. Please tell me more about what happened. I want to get it right for you.”
Don’t Make Excuses
Excuses only say: “I’m NOT GOING TO HELP YOU NOW.” Don’t make excuses to any customer. No one wants to hear all the excuses or the reason something happened. That is your problem, not theirs. Just start to FIX IT ALL.
The worse excuse? “I’m new.” If necessary, you can say, “Please bear with me, this is my 3rd day (or 2nd week), and I will help you. I only need a little time and patience.” Most customers identify with this statement. “I’m new” is a useless statement. FAGETABOUTIT!
The Key to Dealing With Angry Customers
Handling angry customers is never pleasant for a franchise business owner, but taking a systematic approach can make a huge difference. Remember, by using the ASAP technique you can turn angry customers into customers for life!
- A: Acknowledge
- S: Sympathize
- A: Accept
- P: Prepare
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