As a part of our new expert guest blogger series, Vicki Halsey of The Ken Blanchard Companies shares the PATH to retaining customers.
By Vicki Halsey | @LeaderChat
Even the most highly regarded names in customer service occasionally fall short of perfection—and most likely, your business will, too. A service provider may make a mistake (they are human, after all) or an event may occur that’s beyond your control. Unfavorable situations can arise that result in a customer feeling less than cared for. How can you ensure your customer will choose to return to your business after an unfortunate incident? How do you leave them with a positive impression after they’ve had a negative experience?
Increase the odds of keeping that customer by following this PATH:
P: Prepare for scenarios. Proactively discuss with your staff possible customer concerns as well as solutions they could offer. Give your frontline people permission to handle issues without having to ask a supervisor. Let them know specifically where the boundaries lie. The faster a frontline employee can make a customer’s problem go away, the faster the experience will become a positive instead of a negative memory.
A: Act in the customer’s best interest. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. If there was an error on your part, apologize. Resolve the matter, on the spot, to the customer’s satisfaction. At Nordstrom, when there is a customer issue, employees are trained to ask what the customer believes would be an appropriate solution. Consider employing something similar in your organization. The customer’s idea of a proper resolution is often very doable.
T: Thank them for their business. This is simple but powerful. When you sincerely express gratitude, you’re acknowledging to the customer that they could have gone somewhere else—and you’re glad they came to you. Everyone wants to be appreciated. Say thank you.
H: Huddle with staff to share learnings. Use a negative service situation as a learning moment to ensure that everyone knows how the problem was resolved and to guard against another customer having a similar experience in the future.
The PATH that leads your customers back to your door isn’t always smooth. In every company that provides a product or service, there are customer “bumps” along the way. It’s the way you respond that lets customers know whether or not you truly care. Embed a memory of care, thoughtfulness, and follow-through. By following the PATH, all roads will lead back to your business.
About the author:
Vicki Halsey is Vice President of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies and one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program. She blogs bimonthly at www.leaderchat.org.
For more ideas around winning the hearts of employees and consumers, check out Network for Good's eGuide: Rewards & Loyalty: 3 Ways to Win the Hearts of Your Consumers and Employees with Cause