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Customer Retention: How to Turn Unhappy Customers into Lifelong Customers

Customer Retention Tips and Trick

Every business has had an experience with an unhappy customer. It can be unpleasant, frustrating and downright challenging, but you can turn this negative into a positive.

It’s not possible to make everyone happy, all of the time. There will always be some complaints. It’s how you react to these complaints that will determine the final outcome. Can you really turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong fan? Of course! Here’s how:

Listen to their Complaints

The majority of unhappy customers won’t complain directly to you – they’ll talk to their friends or vent on social media. There’s not much you can do about this.

You can however listen carefully to those who do come to you with their problems. Really hear what they are telling you – chances are other people have had the same problem.

When you listen – without judgement, interruption or justification – your customers will feel respected. This goes a long way to improving their opinion of you.

Accept Responsibility

This is one of the hardest things to do. As humans our gut reaction is to defend ourselves or justify our actions. Particularly if we feel complaints are unfair or unfounded.

Customers rarely hear admissions of fault from businesses. So when you hold your hands up and say “I’m sorry, that was our mistake”, they are impressed.

Apologise even if it’s not your fault. Don’t pass the buck; just take their complaints on the chin. Happy customers are more important than being right.

Solve the Problem Quickly and Efficiently

How many times have you had to jump through hoops to get a refund or replacement? Endless emails, calls to customer service (at your expense) and Tweets to the company achieved nothing.

Finally, they offer a refund and an apology – but by then it’s too late. You’re done with that particular company; you’ll take your business elsewhere.

Don’t let customers chase you for the solution to their problem. Brian Taylor, President of Kernel Season’s, says:

“Address [their concerns] as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Offer refunds, replacements or suggest new products or services when it makes sense. You can’t always please everyone, but addressing the issue in a timely manner is a must.”

Maintain Stellar Customer Service

It’s hard keeping your cool when a customer is shouting and swearing down the phone at you. They might seem like a lost cause, so why bother making the effort anyway?

Because you can turn even the angriest customer into an evangelist.

Maintain your stellar levels of customer service even while they rant at you. Blow them away with profuse apologies, a quick solution and something extra – like 20% off their next purchase to sweeten the deal.

Being polite, apologetic and empathetic will calm them down. Being rude back will make them angrier!

Do Something Out of the Ordinary

There’s a lot of same old, same old in the retail industry. Making the effort to do something unusual for your unhappy customers will put you miles ahead of the competition.

Shep Hyken at the Retail Customer Experience blog gives an interesting example of this. He talks about Jim Brown’s (Chief Operating Officer of Handel’s, a chain of ice cream shops in the US) unusual approach to customer complaints.

Jim does what most businesses (should) do; he apologises and gets to work making things right. But then he takes it further – he asks the customer to become part of their mystery shopper programme. He makes their complaints feel validated and useful by making them part of the team.

What can you do for your unhappy customers to make them feel appreciated?

Retention Strategies

Turning unhappy customers into lifelong fans isn’t impossible. It isn’t even all that difficult. You just have to be prepared to be professional and polite, even in the face of extreme rudeness.

Treating unhappy customers with respect and empathy is the key to gaining their loyalty.

It’s a simple five step process; listen, accept responsibility, apologise, solve the problem quickly and always maintain high levels of customer service. If you want to really blow them away, you can throw in something a little out of the ordinary too.

Mark Johnson is a digital marketing consultant with a degree in business and lots of experience in the field. He loves to help companies flourish online and realize their digital potential. If you would like to get in touch with Mark, please email him here.