Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Can an unhappy customer be your key to success?

Guest blogger Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A. has a wealth of business experience. She enjoys  studying business books and engaging in online education seminars and classes to keep up-to-date. Jill has recently set up a new Facebook group called The Business of Balloons. This group is aimed at those who own and operate a business that sells balloon decor, retail balloons, balloon deliveries, or entertaining with balloons.

Jill shares her experience with us and explains how an unhappy customer can be your key to success.

‟All complaints have a similar theme – something that was supposed to happen did not. Something didn’t work(i.e., a balloon drop or a special effect.) You didn’t deliver on schedule, were late to set up, or missed a delivery. Your client’s expectations were not met; your client thought they were getting X, but you delivered Y.
By the time a customer is ready to contact you, they are upset and emotional. 

So how do you turn this around?
  • Make your client feel heard, – Let the client vent; they deserve it. While it is only natural to get defensive, truly listen to their complaint and pick-up on nuggets of information that you can use to make them a loyal customer. 

  • Do everything you can to delight your client. - Sometimes you cannot undo a problem, but there are ways you can find to make it up to your client. If you go slightly above what your unhappy client is expecting as a resolution, then it can go a long way into making them a repeat customer who will refer new business to you.

  • Protect your Brand from negative mentions. - Before smart phones and social media, if a client had a complaint they called you or wrote you a letter. Now, it is easy for an unhappy client to damage your brand in a matter of seconds. So how do you handle this? Unresolved and ignored complaints tend to escalate. Respond promptly online and continue to update the situation so potential clients know that you care. This will go a long way and if the client leaves you negative feedback, you can try to balance it with a positive solution. Do not engage in an online argument with your client. This will just escalate and end badly for you with negative publicity.

  • Build and maintain a positive reputation. – So what happens when your unhappy client is transformed into a satisfied one, or better yet, a thrilled one? They become more loyal than your best satisfied customer. Why? Because your satisfied customer received what they were supposed to receive from you. Your unhappy customer was hoping for a resolution that probably was not going to happen, and you delivered beyond what they were expecting. So you know that they will do? Tell everyone about their unbelievable story! There is nothing like unsolicited positive mentions to improve your brand – to me that is a win! 

  • Welcome complaints as a way of improving your business. - If an unhappy client tells you about a problem, how many more have possibly experienced the same issue but haven’t said anything to you? When you incorporate complaints from your clients as a way of improving your business, you show your clients you care and help your business avoid the same issues in the future. Most clients will accept a human hiccup or occasional error; how you respond is what will distinguish you from your competitors.
So next time you have an unhappy customer, sincerely thank them for bringing this to your attention and take the appropriate action to turn this into a positive way to build your business.”
Jill Shortreed, CBA – Charleston Balloon Company 

A huge thank you to Jill for sharing her experience with the Very Best Balloon Blog! If you have not already found her group “The Business of Balloons,” I strongly recommend it, as it is a wealth of information and business support! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler


Unknown said...

Thanks Sue and Jill. These advices are very true. Once I had a class by a Belgium Professor in Business Communications. He said: When a customer complaints, they give you feedback about your internal processes for FREE!. That is like getting a present. So what do you say next time a customer complains about your business: You say THANK YOU !

Sue Bowler (Marston-Weston) said...

Thank you, Henk for your very informative feedback!

Christine Maentz said...

One of my first "big" jobs turned into my worse nightmare. I had a trail of over 50 emails confirming details, requesting changes (from the client), confirming changes, this went on and on. On the day of set up, the final details were confirmed with my contact, on location. As we're are just about done a lady came to me and asked me, "What da heck are you doing? This is ALL wrong!!!" I was dumbstruck! I asked her who she was and she replied she was the project manager. I explained that I was told by my contact to erect structures where they were. Her reply was, "Obviously your contact doesn't know what she'd doing either!".

Through all of our many contacts, both on the phone and email I assumed I was dealing with the person responsible - she even delivered the deposit check to me at my studio. Why would I even think to ask if she was my correct contact?

At the end of the event when I returned to strike, the "lady" apologized and said in the end everything looked great and she was happy. I assured her that next year I'd take into account her displeasure and "would make it right".

I followed through the next week with my regular thank you email...

I found out a month ago when I called to "stay in touch" that my contact had been fired right after the event. Although the "lady" assured me she'd use my services for this year's event, she isn't returning my calls or email.

Lesson learned - since then I always ask my contact if she's the person in charge of this project. Always!

klotylda said...

Interesting point of view, I actually think I'll start using at least a few of these tips! In my case, the best business improvement tip was dynamics 365 development.
Anyway, good luck writing your blog and all the best for you.