I was recently in the middle of an issue with one of my clients where someone left a very poor review of their location. This review was posted on the incorrect social media page, and really, has nothing to do with my client's location because they mixed up the businesses.
However, the owner of the other location—in spite of my recommendations on how to handle the unhappy customer (who had a very serious allegation)—decided to ignore the displeased customer instead of handling the issue directly and professionally. <sigh> It made me think about the poor customer service that is dished out on a regular basis by other larger corporations. I came up with a few things you can do to keep them happy. Read on below:
10. Take feedback seriously—and respond!
If a client leaves a negative review or feedback, you better be the first to acknowledge you failed and apologize for their experience. Offer to make up for the poor service or product—and follow through. Don't make excuses or become defensive because your reputation is riding on the line.
Also, never block a customer and ignore them. It's the worst move you could ever make. One detrimental review could turn into a dozen. Properly address the situation and respond accordingly. You're in business because of your clients, so keep them happy by letting them know you care. Use their feedback to improve your services and products.
9. Be honest about the product and its benefits.
Speaking of the product, consumers want to know the specifications and limitations of the product but what they really want to know is what they get out of purchasing it. Example: If your juicer can't juice wheatgrass, then be upfront about it unless you want irate clients because they broke the juicing screen attempting to juice wheatgrass. (You wouldn't believe the number of angry reviews I've seen over broken juicing screens because the juicer couldn't handle wheatgrass!) Always be honest. Trust me, it'll save you a lot of headache in the long run.
8. Shoppers want to know the price!
If you think the price point is not relevant, well, you're wrong. As a shopper, I don't know how many ads I've clicked while browsing the web, only to click off because the price was nowhere to be found. No price? Goodbye! I don't have time to waste trying to figure out how much your services cost.
For example, gym memberships (thankfully, I don't need one, we have an amazing gym where I live) can range in prices but often these companies don't want you knowing the price until you are in front of them. It's easier to convince someone to sign on for a membership if they're right in front of you versus looking at your services from the comfort of their couch.
7. If you have a physical location—include the hours.
If I want to visit your store to purchase something, then I'm going to need your regular operating hours. I might pick up the phone to call for the location hours but you have to pick up the phone. Another example, I called a boutique the other day to find out their hours because I wanted to include their listing in a blog post I was writing for a client. Nobody answered. Hours on the website were not listed anywhere. I know they're open because their Facebook page had recent postings but no operating hours. How can I direct readers to your store if you don't list your business hours?
6. A word about contracts.
I can't emphasize how much I really loathe contracts. Let's face it, nobody likes getting ripped off. In a perfect world, contracts wouldn't be an issue because we love the service/membership/products and would always be able to afford it. However, we live in the real world. In the real world, there are times when you have to drop the extras—even when you don't want to.
With that said, unless you're offering a discount for a client to pay for a 6-month, 1-year, etc. membership upfront, why is it necessary to trap someone in a contract? It's dishonest to tell someone they have the option to cancel their membership at any time but you fail to mention that they have to move at least 30 miles away or need a doctor's note, etc. If you lose your job, well I guess you'll have to sell your plasma to cover that membership!
People prefer the flexibility of memberships/services that don't require contracts. I understand if you're giving them a 30% discount if they pay for six months up front but otherwise, um.. no. And, don't try to come back at me with, "We've always required contracts." Pshh.. You can always change your business model. Gyms that don't require contracts are far more attractive than gyms that do especially if you've ever been screwed over by a gym in the past.
5. Give amazing customer service.
You're in business because of your clients. If you really want to be successful, then you're going to need to provide excellent customer service. In fact, this should be a given but everyone knows that some companies give horrible customer service mainly because they have grown to dominate their market and people really don't have any other options. Smile, be polite, professional, work quickly, and know your stuff. Your goal is for your customers to leave feeling good about your establishment—so good that they follow you on social media and share their experience with their personal circle.
4. Deliver on time.
Clearly, today's society has been conditioned for "instant gratification" and lacks the patience of previous generations as a result. We want what we want, and we want it now (well, not everyone, but most). Give your clients a delivery date and stick to it. Clients expect a faster turnaround time, which obviously is not always doable. To avoid any confusion, give it to them in writing.
Make sure to obtain their communication preference (email, text, etc.). If you're running behind, let your client know as soon as possible. Remember, if you're operating a business that caters to other businesses—they're on a deadline too. Don't put them in a bind because you're unable to keep up with your workload.
3. Transparent practices.
Don't surprise your clients with hidden fees. Be upfront about the associated costs with your services or products. If you've ever clicked on a deal, only to find an additional charge when you go to checkout—you feel cheated. Personally, I'm more likely to look elsewhere if I feel a business is using dishonest methods to attract customers.
These are the types of businesses that will most likely cheat you because they can get away with it—mainly because you let them. If you want to keep your shoppers happy, then make things easy to find, eliminate hidden fees, be upfront about return policies, and basically be honest with them. You can do this, I have faith in you.
2. Employee training.
Your employees should be trained and prepared to handle a wide variety of situations. If a customer comes back with a complaint about a product and your customer service representative doesn't know how to handle the situation, then that falls back on the manager/owner of the company. Well-trained your employees provide better service because they are confident in their customer service abilities.
If your employees are competent and deliver exceptional service—even when they make a mistake—then you begin to develop trust with your clients. They know you're running a top-notch organization and they'll come back again and again.
1. Don't take negative feedback personally.
I realize that some people feel insulted when a customer comes back with poor feedback, however, you cannot take it personally because you are running a business. You should make it a habit (and a priority!) to keep your clientele happy, otherwise, you cannot expect to be in business for long. If you run around, defensive and threaten to sue every person who expresses a criticism of your company, then your reputation is going to fall.
Take their critique and use it to improve your business. Never blame the customer for their bad experience. It's your responsibility to ensure they have an amazing experience. The only person holding you back from keeping your clients happy is you.
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