Say You’re Sorry

Ellen Rohr
Contributing Writer
Bare Bones Biz

“When you lay an egg, stand back and admire it!”  ~ Dale Carnegie

You are building your company with the highest intentions.  You are pursuing a lofty purpose and your company reflects your values.  You are working passionately and tirelessly to create a company that dazzles your customers with wonderful products and services.  You are building systems to deliver your services consistently.  You are training your team to do the right things.

Still…at some point you are going to blow it.  And when you blow it, you may hear about it.

• “Your installer tracked mud on my carpet!”

• “They are the wrong color!”

• “You ripped me off.  My brother-in-law has a friend who knows a guy who can do that work for half of the money I paid you.”

Responding to a customer complaint is an #1 priority, both urgent and important.  For every problem, real or imagined, I suggest this strategy for making it right…

• Let your customer know that you are concerned!

• Assure him that you will do whatever it takes to make the situation right.

• Ask him what he wants you to do to make it right.

• Do that…and a little bit more.  Aim to astonish him with your more-than-asked-for response.

Admit it when you’ve messed up.  Apologize and make it right.  Bless your complaining customers!  You can make it right with them and use the experience to improve your business.  The customers who are upset but don’t complain will just take their business elsewhere…and you will never know.  Too much of that will sink your business.

Sometimes a customer will complain because he intends to rip you off and try and get something for nothing.  Has that ever happened to you?

Sure, you can make a big deal about who is right and who is wrong.  98% of people are trying to do the right things.  2% of people, well, they are just nasty people.  Don’t fuss over the 2%.  Focus on the 98%.  Save yourself some grief and aggravation.  Cut to the chase.  Find out what your customer wants you to do…and do it.

Should you receive a price complaint, try this approach…

“Mr. Fernwicky, I wish it were not so expensive to run a professional service company.  The trucks, the insurance, the training, the inventory, the safety programs, the 24-hour phone service, the wages for top notch technicians…it costs a lot to put this show on the road.  Our prices are based on our costs of doing business.  Our prices are fair, and we try to provide great service. 

However, in this instance we have failed to communicate the value of that service to you and for that, I apologize.

Our goal is your 100% satisfaction.  What’s it going to take to make you 100% satisfied with our service?

Listen.  Then do it.  Plus a little bit more.  This approach will avoid lots of wrinkles and gray hair.

Say You’re Sorry Exercise

Today, spend some time reflecting on your relationships.  Have you fallen out of touch with a customer, friend or family member over some miscommunication or unresolved problem?

Today you are going to settle the upset.  Forgive him.  Forgive yourself.  Knock the chip off your shoulder.  Life is too short to create unnecessary boundaries.

Call him up and say you’re sorry.

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”~ Mahatma Gandhi

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