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Turn Disgruntled Clients into Your Biggest Fans

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How well does your business recover when something goes wrong?

In a perfect world, every client walks away from experiences with your company feeling thrilled about the service they received.

But we know how the real world operates.  Even the best businesses don’t get it right every time.  At one point or another, we all miss deadlines, fall short of expectations or deliver service that leaves clients, well, underwhelmed.

Service recovery – the way your company responds when something goes wrong – can make or break your business.  If you’re good at it, problems will never escalate to the point where you lose a customer.  But if your company fails at service recovery, you may wind up with angry customers who blog, tweet and talk about their negative experiences with everyone they know.

Not good for business.

Given how vitally important service recovery is to the success of your staffing or recruiting firm, how can you consistently turn disgruntled customers into your biggest fans?  Turn your service mistakes into opportunities.  Here’s how:

  • Listen.  Let the client vent.  Sometimes, just expressing his grievance can go a long way toward making a dissatisfied client feel better.  Once he’s had a chance to speak, ask him follow-up questions to make sure you understand exactly what happened.  Show him that you take his complaint seriously and that you want to make it right.
  • Take responsibility.  Sincerely apologize and take ownership of the error or the negative impact it caused.  Make sure the client knows that you are the person who will fix his problem.
  • Make it right.  Sometimes, it’s clear what needs to be done to correct a service mistake.  Other times, it’s not as obvious.  Don’t hesitate to ask your customer what you can do to make it right – you’ll find that in most cases, a client who knows you’re committed to helping will be reasonable.  Together, determine what you can do to fix the problem as soon as possible and ultimately retain the customer’s business.
  • Get buy-in.  Ask for the client’s agreement with your solution to ensure that he will be satisfied in the end.
  • Go the extra mile.  A small token can go a long way to ease the pain your mistake caused.  Find a way to go above and beyond your agreed-upon solution, to show him how much you value his continued business.
  • Share and learn from the experience.  Make service recovery debriefings a part of your regular team meetings.  Share your experiences as a group and talk about what you can do to prevent similar problems from happening again.

At the end of the day, outstanding service recovery can be what separates your company from the rest of the pack.  Solving customers’ problems and sending them away singing your praises creates word-of-mouth advertising that’s exponentially more effective than traditional forms.  So train and empower your staff to make things right for your clients – and turn disgruntled customers into your biggest fans!

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