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Win the customer not the argument

Dec 17, 2013
However well you run your business it is inevitable that from time to time a customer will find a reason to complain. Some, perhaps most, managers see complaints as negative and sometimes view them simply as an attempt by the customer to get a reduction in the price or some other kind of compensation. By David Jordan

In fact this is seldom the case.  Most people, certainly in the UK, don’t like to complain and will only do so if they feel they have received particularly poor service, so the fact they have come forward and voiced their dissatisfaction should be welcomed, not resented.  It should be seen as an opportunity to improve your service and to prove to the customer, and the world, that you really do care. Why the world? Well, if you receive good service you’ll probably tell half a dozen people, but if you are badly let down you’ll probably tell a hundred, and now with social media it could be many thousands.


So how do you deal with an irate customer who seems to be after your blood? The first rule is not to start and argument. Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, listen to what the customer says and let him get things off his chest - without butting in.  Be genuinely interested and remember to thank the customer for letting you know there’s been a problem and giving you a chance to put things right.  By this time you should have developed a rapport with the customer and the absence of confrontation will have changed his initial anger to a more consolatory state of mind.  Ask the customer what you can to do to rectify the situation and if possible agree to his proposal.  Even better, try to exceed it!  Remember, the high cost of winning the argument will almost certainly outweigh the cost of regaining the customer’s goodwill.


I can hear the cynics out there saying that this is merely giving in to customers’ unreasonable demands and that standing your ground and pointing to clauses in your Ts&Cs is a more realistic approach. There may indeed be times when if all else fails this is the only course to take, but for most professional responsibly run businesses this will rarely, if ever be the case.  Don’t forget, we live in litigious times and if the gloves really come off and the lawyers get involved you could lose more than just your reputation.




Picture:  The high cost of winning the argument will almost certainly outweigh the cost of regaining the customer's goodwill.


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