“I’m NOT happy!”

How do you respond when you hear this from a customer? Your response could mean the difference between staying – and even growing your business – or losing customers.

As a professional, I have to deal with unhappy customers like we all do. But I have learned that an unhappy customer can be my greatest opportunity to not only keep that customer but make him/her so happy that others will come because of the way I handled the initial complaint.

As a customer, I’m quick to express my dissatisfaction (yes, I can be “high maintenance” on occasion) when my expectations are not met. Let me give you two examples:

1. My wife and I hit a McDonalds’ drive-thru and placed an order over the outdoor speaker system. I even confirmed my order, not only at the speaker, but also with the lady who handed me my order, even though the amount I expected to pay did not add up right. My suspicions were confirmed when my wife began doling out our meals and I was shorted a cheeseburger. Because I was so hungry, I turned around, drove back to the McDonalds and stormed in to get my order straightened out. After (rather angrily) complaining about the missing cheeseburger, the manager quickly hustled one up for me and refused to allow me to pay for it, over my protestations.

2. It was 4 PM on Christmas Eve at WalMart. A popular camera advertised on sale was not on the shelves and I joined several other people who had made the trip in to purchase the camera. When the clerk could not contain our mounting frustration over not being able to find the advertised camera, she had a supervisor come to help her. Between the clerk and her supervisor, they asked us for some patience and then ran to the loading dock to see if the latest truck had our cameras. It did and everyone who stopped in to pick up the camera, walked away happy. The amazing part was that all this was done with a smile on the faces of the clerk and supervisor, who both made sure to smile to us and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

What are my reactions as a customer in both cases? I have made sure that I go back to each of those establishments and even told others about the great service I received.

What I ALWAYS preach to other business owners is to look at themselves the same way a customer would. If you were a customer walking into your establishment for the first time, is it someplace you would want to spend your time and money or would you run away?

Do you treat an unhappy customer as something to tolerate and get rid of or an opportunity to increase your bottom line? Your answer to that question could literally be the difference between prosperity or the unemployment line.


Steve Oviatt is President of Battlefield Telecom Consulting LLC (www.battlefieldtele.com) and also writes about Telecom Expense Management issues at www.facebook.com/BattlefieldTelecom.


About battlefieldtelecom

I'm an experience trainer and customer service consultant who has worked extensively in the high tech, telecom and call center arenas around the world.
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