What To Do When the Customer is Right… and You Are Wrong

Service providers live by the mantra that, “The customer is always right.” It’s cliché but true – so it makes sense that more and more businesses today are putting the customer front and center, directing a lot of the budget and effort to maximizing their experience and providing the best possible service.

Yet, no matter how hard you try, the reality is that you can’t make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. Not all customers will always be satisfied.

The Public Trust Organization conducted a survey of 1,630 consumers to learn more about their experience with businesses and service providers when filing a complaint. What did they discover?

  • According to the survey data, 96% of the consumers surveyed had had a bad experience with a product or service they purchased during the past year. That’s basically everyone.
  • Generally, most consumers just want to be treated with respect when they have a complaint. Many businesses are confident that monetary compensation is the way to appease a dissatisfied customer. Yet 55% say they want to have someone listen to them. 45% say they want to have someone explain to them in an accessible way how their complaint is being handled. Only 21% of consumers said that they expect monetary compensation! Which means you can’t just throw money at the problem.
  • 68% of consumers said they were not satisfied with how their complaint was handled. Most likely this is because only 10% of consumers reported that their complaint was dealt with and closed after one inquiry. An appalling 90% did not receive an answer at all or required more than one inquiry to get a response. At the end of the day, communication is key.

A good rule of thumb is that a customer who has had one negative experience needs 12 positive experiences to make up for it. Twelve means there are quite a few steps till you get to the ‘kiss and make up’ stage, which means you should start communicating with them and getting them closer to happy as soon as possible.

Of course, at Howazit, we first and foremost emphasize providing positive experiences to customers. But that is not enough. There must also be a larger strategy for how to address customers when they do have a negative experience.

So how do you ensure a customer comes back despite that negative experience?

  1. Proactively contact each customer. Get to them first. Make checking in the standard. That way, you can locate the dissatisfied customers even before they call the center or contact you on social media.
  2. Be nice. Use pleasant language that is accessible and tailored to the customer.
  3. Provide effective treatment. Pre-classify the types of complaints that will exist ranked by their severity and develop protocols accordingly. There will be complaints that are sound and justified but not dramatic – so an immediate and automatic response to these will both quickly satisfy the customer and, also, not burden the peoplepower in customer service. On the other hand, when there is a serious complaint, it is important to identify it in the moment of truth, respond quickly and appropriately, and even bump it up to the front of the line, if needed.
  4. Get to know the customer. By interfacing with CRM systems, you can provide a solution that truly matches the customer’s characteristics. Is this a VIP customer? Is this a serial complainer? What is their level of loyalty and seniority?
  5. Keep them in the loop. Update the customer as to how the complaint is being handled and what the timeline is.
  6. Close the circle. Measure the customer’s satisfaction with how the complaint was handled. Even if the customer has had a negative experience, they should be satisfied with how it was handled. Bonus, if there is an opportunity to restart the relationship, sweeten the pot, or give them a little extra compensation for next time.

Remember that if the customer has a positive experience when you handle their complaint, that means they only need to have 11 more positive experiences with you before you’re back again and golden!  😉 Based on our experience, companies that take on this process automatically manage to get over 50% of the complaining customers to come back home again. It just goes to show that you can’t really go wrong, when you ensure the customer is always right.

Share the Post:

Dive Deeper: Explore More of Our Blog