How to retain customers when you discover a problem with your product or service is important because it sets the tone for the customer relationship.Even the best products and services occasionally have problems. When they do, you should look upon the situation as an opportunity to earn customer confidence. Why? For two good reasons:
- Some customers never know how good a product or service is until they experience a problem.
- Solving that problem can strengthen the relationship by physically and emotionally demonstrating your concern, integrity and commitment.
If you discover a problem, you have two options:
1. Hope the customer doesn’t discover it.
2. Bring the problem and a solution to the customer’s attention.
Taking the first option is like hiding your new golf clubs in the basement or standing in front of the big dent in the car: eventually, someone will find out. Eventually, your customer will discover the problem. The cover-up may only worsen matters because customers will not only question the quality of your product but your integrity as well. The second approach is not without its risks, but the potential reward of a satisfied customer is generally worth the drawbacks. Learning how to retain customers when this situation arises is a “moment of truth” that ultimately will shape the customer experience you deliver.
The inherent risks of bringing a problem to the customer’s attention can be eliminated or minimized by these factors:
- Your presentation manner. Are you able to connect with the customer on an emotional level?
- Quality of the solution. Does your solution address the customer does stated and implied concerns?
- Effectiveness of the implementation. Do you deliver what you promise?
- Follow-through. Do you confirm that the customer’s concerns were met?
In a technology-driven business environment it’s easy to use email, voice mail etc to deliver your message. Don’t fall into that trap. Retaining customers is your goal so it’s important to address product problems with a personal touch. This means connecting personally with the customer whenever and wherever possible.To effectively handle this type of moment of truth take the following steps:
- Explain the problem. Avoid trying to fix blame. Accept personal responsibility.
- Acknowledge and listen to the customer’s concerns. Listening to and observing the customer’s “words and music” will help you gauge how to present your solution.
- Address the problem with a course of action. Your solution should address the cause of the problem as well as your customer’s concerns.
- Maintain the customer’s confidence in the product or service. This is usually accomplished after you have implemented the solution to the customer’s satisfaction. It requires conscientious follow-up on your part.
Problems will occur with your products and services. How you retain customers when they do should be an integral part of how you conduct business. Be pro-active and keep the customer’s needs and emotions in mind when you respond. Your actions will help define the quality of the customer experience as well as the longevity of the customer relationship.
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