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How to recover from a service blunder

No one likes the ugly clouds of customer complaints.  But the silver lining here is that properly handled complaining clients can become huge “Turbo Cheerleaders”!

Now as the owner or manager you will instinctively bend over backwards to please a ticked-off client.  But your staff may avoid, ignore or even worse become adversarial with complaining customers.  So train your employees in this simple “L.E.A.P.” acronym:

Listen- “Actively” listen to the customer’s concerns by using probing questions, jotting down notes and restating their comments to make sure you understand.

Empathize- Make an “Empathy Statement” to show the client that you understand and feel for them on an emotional level. Sincere comments such as “That must have been tough for you” or “I know I wouldn’t like that” or “Wow, that’s embarrassing to learn” all can put you on the same level as the customer.

Apologize- Make a heartfelt and sincere apology for the stress and inconvenience they have suffered.

Promise- Reassure the customer that you will do everything in your power to resolve their concern. Then of course you must do so!

I love illustrations, stories AND acronyms because they are remembered long after more complex (boring?) explanations. We always cover “converting a complainer” in depth during SFS but this simple L.E.A.P. abbreviation will hopefully stick with your employees.

Steve Toburen

PS: So how do you handle customer complaints? Share your ideas and/or war stories by commenting below!

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One Response to How to recover from a service blunder

  1. Scott R August 22, 2012 at 7:25 AM #

    With good training and the Lords blessing, we get about two or three “concerned customer” calls per year. After listening to the customers “concerns” (I hate the word complaint), we apologize that they had to make this call in the first place. We then assure them that we will do everything possible to resolve any of their “concerns” even if we know it is a irreparable issue like a stain. When we hear that sigh or relief in the voice, we ask “what day and time is best for YOU? We book the appointment, show up ON TIME, and “hold their hand” through the inspection. We do what needs to be done and explain the entire process to the customer who is now thrilled even if there was nothing we could do, and hence, we have a “Cheerleader” as they say to us on the way out the door…”You guys are the best!”

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