Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 30, 2011
When it comes to handling customer complaints, consumer-behavior findings support the notion that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. If you respond quickly to address an initial complaint, your customer stays remains likely to make future purchases from you. In fact, a prompt, thorough resolution of the problem often leads to the customer becoming even more likely to come back to buy more.
Researchers at the University of Virginia found that if a customer again encounters the same sort of problem, repurchase intentions drop sharply. The customer might not even bother to return to your business to complain, choosing instead to shift purchases elsewhere.
This means you might not learn why you’ve lost customers. Whenever you think you’ve resolved a complaint, ask them if they are fully satisfied. If they reply that they are not, see what you can do to change it to "yes." Then when you get the "yes," say: "If you ever have a problem like this again, please be sure to let me know. Here is my business card."
Use "I," "me," and "my" instead of "our store." Take personal responsibility. Then be sure all staff know that if a customer calls or comes in asking for you by name, staff should either get you or say you’re not available at that moment and then add: "May I please see if I can help you?"
Also, if you have a frequent-buyer program that allows this, look for regular customers who have not come to your store for a while. Contact them to ask if there are any problems that you can solve. Ask, "What might I do to make it more likely you’ll shop here again soon?"
Bruce D. Sanders