An Unhappy Customer is an Opportunity

Would you rather be right or rather be successful? 
Guest blog by Julie Anne Jones writes about a personal experience turned into a powerful lesson!

Julie Anne Jones

I’m a bonafide chocoholic. My true favorite is milk chocolate with mint. Whenever I fly through Seattle, I grab a box of Dilettante Chocolates Peppermint Truffle Cremes on my way through the airport. On my last trip home, I bought a box and jumped on my flight. After dinner that night, I opened the box and took out a much anticipated, individually wrapped chocolate, bit into it…and almost broke a tooth. My truffle creme was hard as a rock. Every piece in the box was like that.

So the next morning, I called the company, explained the problem, and they apologized profusely, promised to mail me a new box of candy, and said someone from their customer service department would be giving me a call. So far so good. Until 4 days later when the box of candy arrived. The packing slip said Peppermint Truffle Cremes, but the box said Ultimate Extra Dark Chocolate Creme. Dark chocolate is the only kind I don’t eat.

So I called back. This time, the same receptionist I spoke with the first time (and he remembered me) was defensive and down right rude. He said he’d have a manager call me. No one ever did. So not only was the problem compounded by a second mistake (which isn’t the end of the world), but he made it worse and I walked away an unhappy customer. I doubt if I’ll be stopping by their kiosk to buy a box of chocolate in January when I fly through again.

Would You Rather Be Right or Successful?

What’s this got to do with you or your direct sales business? I hope it’s an important lesson to you. While I was certainly an unhappy customer, I was definitely open to having Dilettante Chocolates make things right for me. Until they didn’t. Had they done a great job of customer service with me, I would have become one of their greatest fans (and may have been writing this blog post to encourage you to stop by and buy a box of candy if you’re ever passing through Sea-Tac Airport, instead of warning you that it might not be the best idea).

When I have an unhappy customer, I have one goal and only one goal…to make sure they walk away as happy as possible. I lead with the question, “What can I do to make you happy and turn this situation around for you?” Honestly, most people are shocked by the question and don’t even know how to answer. Customers expect to have to fight for their rights in these situations because most companies don’t understand the value of good customer service. For me, one unhappy customer can do more damage that 50 happy ones. So I don’t care how “wrong” I have to be, I make it right if at all possible.

Turn an Unhappy Customer Into A Raving Fan

The next time you have an unhappy customer, look at it as an opportunity to create a “raving fan.” I have several stories like that, and a few of my biggest “fans” started out as angry clients. It was the way I (and my staff) dealt with their concerns that changed everything. That doesn’t mean I never get frustrated or even feel a little taken advantage of. But I take a deep breath, put myself in the unhappy customer’s shoes, and give whatever I have to give to create a happy customer.

Just a little food for thought. If nothing else, the next time you’re confronted by an unhappy customer, stop before you react, and ask yourself how much it will cost you to find out what your customer wants and give it to them. It may cost you much less in the long run than losing a customer.

What do you think?