Encourage complaints

Of course, you work to make your service so prompt and responsive that there won’t be any customer complaints. If you can manage that, congratulations.

But if you’re like the rest of us, sooner or later your business will do something a customer doesn’t like. The problem is, she may or may not tell you she’s unhappy, and if she doesn’t, you may lose her as a customer before you’ve had an opportunity to repair the damage. It happens frequently:  the customer quietly frets and stews about what she sees as your failures, until she finally decides she’s had enough, and says goodbye.

You probably won’t be able to get her back. Not only that, if you never learn why she left, you may not be aware that there is a problem with your service, and you’ll have the same problem with other customers. So it’s important to learn about complaints before they get serious.

Encourage your reticent customer to speak up with her honest evaluation of your relationship with her. “Ms. Carson, I want to make sure we’re doing a good job for you. Please tell me — how are we doing?” And if she reveals that indeed there is a problem, ask her, “How can we fix it?”

You have a good chance save the relationship by doing what’s necessary to solve the problem.  And even if the situation is beyond repair, you’ll identify the hitch in your service that may be bothering other customers, too. Whenever you do lose a customer, you should find out why.

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