Don't Make Your Customers Get Defensive

Posted by David Chism | Thu, Dec 29, 2011

 Don't Make Your Customers Get Defensive
This week’s mar­ket­ing tip is a no brain­er to most of us, but unfor­tu­nate­ly many busi­ness­es over­look this prin­ci­ple.
Mar­ket­ing Prin­ci­ple: Nev­er make your cus­tomer feel uncom­fort­able when a prob­lem sur­faces. If you are at fault, do what it takes to take full respon­si­bil­i­ty. If the cus­tomer is at fault, don’t let them get defen­sive. Cre­ate a win-win out­come.
Relat­ed To Marketing? How does this relate to mar­ket­ing, one might ask? Every­thing you do in your busi­ness, good and bad, is mar­ket­ing. The way you answer the phone, your voice­mail greet­ing, cus­tomer ser­vice, the appear­ance of your employ­ees, it sends a mes­sage to the con­sumer: hope­ful­ly a pos­i­tive one!  My Per­son­al Story The prin­ci­ple I men­tioned above is rela­vant to me this week because I had a sit­u­a­tion (still going on) with a ser­vice con­trac­tor that made me get a lit­tle defen­sive and feel like the bad guy. I won’t men­tion their names (yet) because they are still in the mid­dle of try­ing to work on my sit­u­a­tion. A long sto­ry short, this com­pa­ny pro­vid­ed a ser­vice to my home which unfor­tu­nate­ly caused a small leak in a pipe that was not ful­ly shut off for sev­er­al hours. An hon­est mis­take and and an easy fix once dis­cov­ered. It dam­aged my ceil­ing tiles in my fin­ished base­ment in the 4 hours the leak took place. I’ve had lots of expe­ri­ence deal­ing with ceil­ing leaks (being in the paint­ing busi­ness) so I knew the water stains were NOT going away. I con­tact­ed the com­pa­ny who apol­o­gized, came back out, fixed the pipe so it would not hap­pen again and then said, Call us in a few days once things dry out and see if every­thing looks ok.” I thought to myself, Sev­er­al tiles are brown and still soak­ing wet…and that is sup­posed to van­ish in 3 days?” I knew right there that this employ­ee was not tak­ing full respon­si­bil­i­ty. I’m a nice guy and respond­ed pleas­ant­ly, Ok I can do that. BUT those ceil­ing tiles are soaked to the bone and are stained! I don’t think that is going away. What can you do about it?” His response, Yeah you are prob­a­bly right. But go ahead and call us in a few days and see how things are look­ing.” He then took a few pic­tures and went away. Hear­ing noth­ing from the staff, I made a call 4 days lat­er to fol­low up. The sales per­son who sold me the water sys­tem called me back the next day. He was very pro­fes­sion­al on the phone yet still lacked the mar­ket­ing prin­ci­ple in this post. Even though he was sor­ry and being pos­i­tive, he put too much pres­sure on me and won­der­ing what I want­ed to do about the sit­u­a­tion. What he should have done is sim­ply said, Dave, I’m sor­ry about your tiles. We’ll take care of this and don’t you wor­ry about a thing.” If he said that, I would have backed down and not got­ten defen­sive. Yet I’m still wait­ing for a call back and a solu­tion that will hope­ful­ly not make me look like I’m the one who caused the leak. The Lit­tle Things Matter It is pos­si­ble to have a few bad apple cus­tomers from time to time. Things hap­pen! Yet it is how you deal with those cus­tomers that will deter­mine if they will be back in the future or be cus­tomers for life. Yes, maybe there hap­pen to be cus­tomers you’d rather not want back. If that is the case, the lit­tle things still mat­ter. Fol­low the prin­ci­ple above and make sure even the tough cus­tomers don’t get defen­sive at the end of a project. You might keep a few from telling their friends or writ­ing nasty reviews online, because you’ve done the right thing. I’ve seem my own father fol­low this prin­ci­ple numer­ous times and he rarely ever has cus­tomers who walk away upset. He has even returned mon­ey to frus­trat­ed cus­tomers (even when it is the cus­tomers fault!). What do you do to keep cus­tomers com­fort­able with your ser­vice? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


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