We all work hard trying to make our customer experience the best we possibly can, but what happens when it all goes wrong?
Things go wrong sometimes. We’re human and we’re busy and sometimes slip-ups occur. However, this doesn’t have to be the end of the world – it could even be beneficial if you react to the situation appropriately. Our reaction and how we deal with mishaps can actually help to change and improve the client’s perception of our services, therefore helping our business to grow.
Studies have shown that regular clients tend to have an ambivalent perception of products and services, as these services become a norm for them and therefore just form part of a habit (1).
So, when mistakes happen and the proverbial hits the fan, satisfaction ratings plummet down a slippery slope and are at risk of never recovering to the same client perception level. What you do next will determine the future of that client’s worth to your business.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Retaining Dissatisfied Customers
Firstly, don’t blame the situation on others, staffing, circumstances beyond your control or basically anything that deflects responsibility from you.
- Do: Take full responsibility, show understanding and sympathise.
- Do: Go beyond the ‘reasonable’ reparations (just this one time) – for example, a full repayment and a free treatment voucher.
- Do: Do something they would NEVER expect as well! Send a bunch of flowers or chocolate to their home, always with a personal message of apology.
Here’s a story
Virgin Atlantic used to overbook flights to NY, following a business model first used in USA domestic airlines in the ‘80s. Over 90% of the time, the flights would leave with a full or partially full cabin as people deferred or changed their booking. On the rare occasion of overbooking at the gate, passengers were offered financial inducements to ‘bump’ to the next flight as a small reward for the inconvenience. The later the time, the higher the inducement to drop down.
However, the truly brilliant thing that Virgin did was to ensure a gift, such as flowers or chocolates, were waiting for the most inconvenienced passengers when they arrived at JFK. These would include a personalised message from the staff member at the gate at Heathrow who delivered their bad news, thanking them for their generosity and helping them out during a tough time.
The results? An unlikely ambassador for the Virgin brand, as well as more full planes for the airline.
I also know a clever man from Darlington, who convinced his local bank manager they should send small, simple, ‘thank you’ presents whenever the bank made an error with a clients account, as people tend to get very upset about big banks messing with their money!
The idea then spread across the group and to other sectors. The company turnover is now £35 million a year and they remain at the forefront of client satisfaction and recovery.
The results for your business will be similarly successful
The client’s ambivalence towards you will now be replaced with a self-satisfying pride and an important realisation of why they chose to use your services in the first place. This helps contribute to empathy on their part, enabling them to understand that things go wrong in your working life as they do in their working life. Most importantly, they will realise that you CARE about them – and every human likes that. Now you have an ambassador for your business who will tell everyone why they use you!
So, when the proverbial hits the fan, try to think of it as an opportunity to grow your customer satisfaction and gain an ambassador to your brand. Show your customers that you care, and thereby encourage them to care about you.
Don’t judge by your success, but by how you overcome the challenges and make customers value you more.
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