Solve customer complaints with one question
When you travel you overhear lots of phone conversations, unintentionally of course. Recently, while waiting for my flight I heard a gentleman calling his home office about an unhappy customer. Something had gone wrong with the product or delivery, causing the customer to lose what sounded like 24 hours of production time. Admittedly, I'm not in manufacturing, but that sounds like a big deal to me.
I'm sorry, what can I do to make this right for you?
Simple, and it avoids having to call a committee together to discuss the problem. Many times, customers just want to vent their anger about a situation. When their anger is legitimate, they just want you to listen. Other times, they have something specific in mind that they want in order to make it right. Too often, like this gentleman at the airport, we get a complaint and the hand-wringing starts. Call the boss; experience panic and fear. What are we going to do? And how are we going to do it?
Knowing what you will or will not do starts by asking the customer, "What can we do to make this right?"
Most of the time the customer's request is more than reasonable. In fact, it's generally less than what you were willing to do.
We all screw up. When you do, apologize and ask what you can do to make it right.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development for the RAB. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB