I usually write about how to best treat your customers, how to give them an amazing experience, how to make things easier on them, or how to help them deal with any frustrations they have during the designing or ordering process. But, let’s be honest, sometimes customers can be a real hassle. Sometimes they can drive you crazy. Sometimes they can be unreasonably demanding. Sometimes you really really don’t want to be nice to them anymore because no matter what you do, they aren’t happy. And you don’t want to kowtow to them any longer. Totally understandable!
So why do it? Because it will actually help you. The more effort you put in at the beginning, planning what to do to proactively make customers happy, to make things easy for them, and faster for them, the happier they are. Which means, the less hassle they give you. The less time you have to spend explaining yet again why they need to pay up front, or sign the contract, or why the couch will be late, the happier you will be. And the more time you will have to do more business. And the more time you will have to do what you actually started this business to do, design interiors.
When a customer calls you all up in arms because there is a fingerprint on the underside of the table that was delivered, or a microscopic chip on a lamp, or they didn’t like the name of the service man, listen to them first. And then listen some more. Even ask them once they’re done, is there anything else that didn’t go well? Let them get it alllll out. Why? Because it will surprise them, calm them, and catch them off guard. Imagine if you called your husband furious about something he did, and he calmly listened to you, then said genuinely, you’re right, I’m really sorry, is there anything else that upset you? You would probably stop dead in your tracks because he apologized, said you were right, and asked if you wanted to complain even more. In other words, he didn’t fight back.
And that’s what happens with customers. So often, they just want to be heard. They want someone to take the blame. They want to tell you how irritated they are. So, do that for them, because it’s easier for you. Not because you’re a wimp, because that won’t help. And not because you don’t know what else to say. Not because this person is so overbearing that you can never get a word in edge wise. Do it because it’s easier for you. And maybe most importantly, because being a good listener is a lot cheaper than a lawyer fee.
Once customers realize that you’re not going to swing back, are going to listen to them, apologize for their frustration in this situation (whatever it may be), and confidently take responsibility to right it, they almost always calm down. What other choice do they have? Continuing to yell no longer makes sense. So, next time, when you’re exasperated with yet another customer complaint, let your exhaustion take you over, and just be still and listen. Do yourself a favor, by letting your customer talk it out, and often times, they will also figure it out.
Showing you’re on their side, that you’re a confident leader ready and willing to take responsibility for righting unfortunate incidents, and that you are the one person they can, and need to, count on, makes life easier for you. Even though in the moment, I know it isn’t easy.
It certainly isn’t when I do this with my husband! But, it does work. Every time he goes on about how I forgot again to put the peanut butter back on the right shelf in the refrigerator, I have a choice. Either fight back and possibly ruin the next 5 minutes for no reason at all or say, you’re right, I know you like for me to do that, and I’ll fix it right now. Guess which answer brings the best results?
Let me know in the comments below any times you have struggled with client complaints!