Everyone should be thrilled to work with you 100% of the time but at some point, you’ll face an unhappy client. The breeches you sold them tore in the washing machine, they didn’t enjoy your clinic, or they don’t like the green in the logo you designed. Maybe the expectations weren’t clear, there could have been some miscommunication or the client is just unreasonable. Whatever the problem is, it ends up on your lap and the client is expecting you to fix it. What do you do?
“But it’s not my fault!,” you may say.
I’m not talking about legal issues and contracts because then, it totally matters whose fault it is. But in normal situations, you need to look at the best course of action for your business from that moment forward. How you react is crucial.
In the age of social media, you have to assume that an unhappy client is going to share details of a bad experience online. If you let your emotions take over and respond to the client in a rude manner, it can turn into a PR nightmare. Screenshots will be taken and shared, videos might be taken and shared. That’s the world we live in and why it’s so important to be professional at all times.
You have three options:
1. You just fix it.
If it’s an easy fix and by going above and beyond, the result is a happy client who tells all their friends on social media how wonderful your company is, that’s the best course of action. It’s a win for the client, but if it’s a win in PR for you as well, then it’s win-win.
2. You don’t fix it completely but extend a reasonable offer.
You may offer a discount on a new pair of breeches or future work with the client. When people come to you with a complaint, they expect a minimum level of effort in resolving the matter. If there’s a way to meet half way and end up with a partial win for both parties?
3. You stand firm and don’t.
There are situations where the relationship is not salvageable or you just can’t do it. What is the cost of leaving that client unhappy? If it’s an unreasonable ask or a client that takes advantage of you constantly, the cost of trying to fix the problem could be higher than the consequences.
If you’re able to turn a situation around and come out with a “win”, that’s the Holy Grail.
Have a margin of error in your pricing.
Great customer service has a cost, so budget that in. Plan ahead by including the return rate or mistake costs in your pricing.
Customer service is marketing.
It’s much easier to retain a client with good service than to constantly having to find new ones. Companies tend to invest a lot in sales and marketing while not putting that much effort in their customer service. Don’t make that mistake. View customer service as marketing, and treat your current clients as well as the new ones you’re trying to attract.