“Thanks so much for screwing me around. I enjoyed the customer experience and will support you forever”.
Ever had a customer say this after they have been royally abused by your organization and are screaming in your face?
You missed the promised delivery time. The product you sold them doesn’t work the way it should. The billing is wrong.
Whatever the explanation behind the breakdown, through the customer’s eyes you, the salesperson, blew it.
What do you do?
First thing: do NOT tell them it’s not your sales job to deal with it, and that you will have the service department look into the matter (so you can get back to selling). This sends out a strong “I really don’t give a sh*t about your problem” message and sewers any chance of a successful recovery.
The most critical element of standout sales IS serving the customer no matter what, even though it might not immediately contribute to your sales quota. Passing the matter on to ANYONE else is a blatant abrogation of sales’ responsibility.
This 3-step recovery process will actually turn your screamer into a crazy advocate of your organization who will “spread your word” more than if the OOPS! never happened in the first place.
- Take responsibility for what happened and apologize for the mess-up regardless of whether you’re at fault in your mind or not. Remember this: It’s NEVER the customer’s fault! If you think you can salvage the customer by reminding them they “never followed your policy”, you’re hallucinating.
All they want to hear is that you regret the incident happened and that you intend to remedy the matter.
If you can’t bring yourself to apologize for the situation, stop reading this article; you’re done and you can write off the customer relationship (and you should be fired).
- Take the lead and fix the screw-up fast. This is critical. A leisurely response will kill you. Studies have shown that you literally have 24 hours to repair the OOPS! and hold the customer; after that, you’ve blown it.
Whatever the problem, you need to be the customer’s “champion on the inside” and muster all of the organization’s resources to solve the problem. And make sure the customer knows the ends you are going to on their behalf.
- Do the unexpected. This is the key step. Every customer expects you to fix your screw up; they give you a “C” on your customer report card when you do.
But generally what they don’t expect is a little something extra to “atone for your sins”. This is where you can earn an “A” on your report card and actually enhance their loyalty.
Go the extra mile. Do something special that the customer isn’t looking for.
But make it personal because if you merely throw your “trash and trinkets” at them it will be perceived as cheap and in-genuine.
Find out something that reflects their individual tastes and play to that. If she loves going to the movies go there. If he is a cabernet sauvignon nut go there.
The critical thing is that the customer feels like you have gone out of your way to make THEM feel special after the way they have been treated.
Sales leadership in the middle of a service meltdown is crucial to build long term loyalty.
Be that salesperson who has the greater good in your mind and heart.
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