Guest Post by Evie Cooper, Business Blogger
It doesn’t matter how careful you are – the world is full of variables, and you’ll inevitably encounter a situation where a customer distrusts you. It may be based on a single bad experience that a short tempered customer feels disproportionately slighted by. It may be something broad and reaching, like a security breech or a data disaster. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the situation is, so long as you’re prepared to handle it. If your customers don’t trust you anymore, you need to get to the heart of the problem and start taking steps to mend the situation.
- Take Full Accountability
Even if you feel as though the situation is entirely not your fault (i.e. the customer purchased the wrong product despite recommendations and still feels misled), find a way to take accountability. Becoming defensive, even if you’re justified, is only going to upset the customer more. The customer feels as though you’ve lead them in the wrong direction. Rather than placing the blame on the customer, think about what you may have said or done to impact the situation.
The customer is not always right, but some customers need to be made to feel as though they are.
- Listen to Their Gripes
Some customers are longwinded complainers, even after an issue has been resolved. Let the customer do most of the talking. Affirm that you’re listening by agreeing and empathizing, but don’t match their wordcount. Answer questions if they’re asked, but stay quiet while the customer expresses what they need to express. This is especially important in cases where a customer’s distrust can easily be justified, such as accidental overcharging or worsening of a problem as a result of a product or service they’ve been provided with.
Remember not to take these gripes personally. You may not have been the individual responsible for the unfortunate situation, and while the customer rationally knows that, he or she may not understand the bigger picture. Be patient and don’t rush the customer through a diatribe. Let them get it all out. They’ll be easier to work with when it comes time to fixing the problem if they’ve said everything they need to say.
- Ask People What They Need From You
If you have a proposed solution to their problem, hold onto it. Try asking what the customer wants in order to feel better about the situation. Remedying what was done wrong may not be enough in and of itself to regain trust, but it shows that you take that loss of trust seriously. If you can accommodate the customer’s exact wishes, it’s a good idea to try your best. If the customer wants something unreasonable, roll out your backup plan.
Ask how they were affected by the situation and frame your solution to target each of the points they bring up. If all you can provide is a refund, explain to them that they are entitled to that refund. If there’s anything above and beyond they want that you can facilitate, see that they get it.
- Make Up For What You’ve Done (If Possible)
Once you’ve listened to the customer’s concerns and satisfied the first step of remedying the problem, it’s time to look at what you can do to either fix the situation entirely or mitigate any damage that was done. If you’ve failed to deliver a product or service on time, or if the product or service was of substandard quality, you may be able to rebuild trust with the customer by coming through on your end of the bargain despite the obstacles you’ve faced.
Give them a reasonable timeframe in which you’ll be able to work towards remedying the situation. You might need to hire more team members to tend to other areas of your business while you intensify your focus and attention to resolving the issue the customer is facing, particularly if the problem is significant. Going above and beyond with customer service is crucial at this time.
For example, a party planning business may fail to complete arrangements before a deadline. If that same business can get their own staff to the location in real time and assume quick management of the situation to avoid the cancellation of a client’s event, this would show the kind of dedication that a distrustful customer is looking to see.
- Demonstrate the Steps You’ve Taken to Remedy the Situation
Take some exit feedback. After you feel as though the issue has been thoroughly resolved, sit down with the customer and explain to them where you went wrong, the measures you took to fix the situation, and how you’ll prevent situations like this from occurring in the future. Gauge their satisfaction with your resolution. Some people will never truly be happy, but collecting feedback from problem resolution will allow you to create strategies that will appease the majority of customers who feel as though they cannot trust you.
No matter what occurred to inspire a breakdown of trust with a customer, it’s important to be vigilant. These things will always happen, and being prepared to handle them swiftly and appropriately will soften the blow.
About the Author
Evie Cooper is a business and career blogger, often sharing her tips and suggestions about creating and growing a a successful business. Currently, Evie is supporting UK Area Code and Postcode-Checker – online knowledge libraries.