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Unhappy Customers: An Owner’s Manual

October 03 2012

unhappyA theme of dealing with unhappy customers keeps popping up as I surf the Internets. It's something that's already in the front of my mind, as the topic of agent ratings has been particularly compelling for me lately. After all, every agent has (probably) had at least one unhappy customer. And wouldn't it be better to manage them better before they go rogue on your online reputation?

So, let's say an unhappy customer has cropped up. What can you do to (best case scenario) rebuild the relationship or (at the very worst) keep them from trashing you publically and ruining future prospects?

1) See them as an opportunity.

Approach each unhappy customer as an opportunity to improve your customer service skills. Also, remember that an unhappy customer can become an even more vocal proponent than someone who was happy all along – that is, if you manage to turn it all around for them.

2) Don't let their anger influence your response.

If you let their anger "get to" you, you're likely to either become angry yourself or to bend over backwards to placate them. Neither response is productive. Find a way to rise above their anger and keep your cool.

3) Give respect and expect respect.

Make it clear from the beginning that you respect your unhappy customer, and that you are deserving of their respect in return. They should know that they can expect you to treat them civilly and that you will not tolerate it if they are not civil to you.

4) Listen to them.

So what does a respectful person do? LISTEN! Give your unhappy customer the opportunity to share their feelings, without interruption.

5) Apologize.

Let's say that, hypothetically, you haven't done anything "wrong." Still, you can say, "I'm sorry that you feel that way." Even if their complaints aren't valid, you can express your regret that they have had a negative experience.

If their complaints ARE valid, then you certainly should apologize for your mistakes. Take responsibility for the errors that you've made, without trying to minimize with excuses or placing the blame on someone else.

6) Collaborate with them to find a solution.

After you've heard their perspective and taken responsibility for the role you played in their frustration (or, at the very least, apologized that they feel frustrated), have a constructive conversation about what you can do moving forward to resolve the problem.

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