As a past Customer Service Representative and an employee of a fast growing company for over three years, I have felt growing pains first-hand. Out of all the burdens I have felt, none have compared to a customer walking out the door. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!
While working over the years, I have found the most effective ways to regain my losses. Ideally, successful companies have a continuous flow of incoming consumers while at the same time, having a plug to keep them from rushing away. Growth is built off a constant flowing stream, with a dam or reservoir to contain it. Half the battle is realizing you even sprung a leak. The other half is taking the steps to stop your boat from sinking altogether. It is a delicate dance, similar to mending a breakup with a significant other.
Do Your ‘Dam’ Research
Now is the time to find the leak! I found this is the best way to begin or restart a relationship, by getting to know the other person. Where are they from? What products or services did they order from our business? Above all, the most important fact is to discover why they changed course in the first place. I found that customers are more open to hearing from you when understanding their point of view; personalization is key.
Don’t Try to Swim Upcurrent
I know it may be natural to go on the defense. Hold tight and listen. Part of the customers healing process is making sure you understand their problem. Give them time to vent, limit interjections, and nod in agreement. Make sure they feel as though they are being heard. Don’t drown out their voice.
Repair The Leak
Time to put that ego aside. No mending can be made to any relationship without one or more parties accepting fault. In this case, now is your cue to apologize. Even if I believe that my company is not at fault, I at least try to acknowledge the way they are feeling. I usually say something along the lines of, “I am sorry you experienced that.” Sincerity is key. I speak to them with confidence, respect, and do my best to put them at ease.
Keep Yourself Out Of Hot Water
Ok here’s the tipping point, I have researched the problem, listened carefully to the customer, and apologized. But it ain’t over yet. Rarely will a customer come back without hearing how I am going to prevent the problem from happening again. It is in your best interest to find a real solution, because there’s rarely room for third chances. If I can’t immediately offer a solution, I tell the customer politely that I will work with management and get back to them. I never offer a solution that isn’t reasonable or feasible.
Changing The Tide
Here’s my final step in plugging the leak. I instill confidence in the customer by offering an incentive or promotion towards their next order. Often this can sway the customer with a zero risk strategy. For example, by offering a free product, it gives the customer incentive to take the plunge, as they have nothing to lose. Now I hope that all my convincing will give them the confidence to take me back.
Standing Water Goes Stale
Last but not least, follow up! Take the time to acknowledge our last conversation, and ask if everything has now met their expectations. I stress the changes my company has made to keep that plug in place! Afterall, plumbers are expensive.