In retail, it's inevitable that there will be the occasional disgruntled customer. No matter how wonderful your products are or how committed you are to provide the best customer service, problems do occur. Armed with the following customer service tips, you can diffuse a situation, save the sale and possibly even create a loyal customer.
Stay Calm and Remember It's Not Personal
When a customer is upset, remember that it is not a personal attack. Let them talk as long as they need to, not only to get it off their chest, but to thoroughly explain the problem. Listen carefully! You cannot fix what you don't understand, so be sure to ask the customer enough questions to learn what is bothering them. By simply listening, the customer will realize that you are interested in their problem and he/she will eventually calm down enough to discuss the situation in a positive manner.
Apologize and Empathize
Once you understand why the customer is upset, apologize. Even if you don't agree with their complaint, you are at least letting them know you validate them and will work towards a resolution. This also separates the emotion from the problem. As a general rule, the expression of empathy to the customer should come right after the apology. When you feel you fully understand, restate your understanding of the problem at hand.
Resolve Their Problem, Not Yours
Your business should have policies in place to prepare people working the front lines to deal with customer service issues. However, not all situations are the same and therefore not all remedies should be the same either. If the disgruntled customer has made it clear what will satisfy him, then do everything within your power to accommodate that customer. This shows your commitment to resolving their problem.
Whatever promises you make to the customer to resolve the issue, be sure to follow up. Call when you said you would call. Even if you don't have the resolution, let the customer know you're sticking to your word. This shows the customer that his/her business is important to you and you're actively working towards getting things fixed.
Learn From Mistakes
Dealing with each unpleasant customer should be a learning experience. Customer feedback should be viewed as an opportunity for change. Keep in mind that not all customers can be pleased. Some people are just complainers and nothing you do will change that. But everything you can correct about this situation will help with future events. Keep improving in areas over which you have control.
Even though the customer is upset, this is still a sale. He or she has already made a purchase and you have their money, so make sure your response is timely and respectful. Customers with complaints simply want you to be aware of the problem and take the necessary steps to correct it. Sometimes there are no substitutions, discounts or freebies you can offer that will keep the sale. Although you may lose this purchase, the attempts you've made to win over the customer may help retain future sales.