Handle complaints and comments promptly
If you’re in business for any length of time, you can count on dealing with complaints. As hard as you try to avoid problems, eventually something causes a customer to complain. That’s true whether you’re in network marketing or a traditional business.
I’ve blogged previously on how to handle complaints. One of the points I make is that you must respond in a timely manner. Don’t let it simmer. It’s not going away. (Your customer may go away, but that’s even worse.)
A recent incident caused me to revisit this topic. I was on the receiving end of some poor follow-up service. The story offers a lesson for everyone in business today.
The saga begins in late June. I purchased some online training through another network marketer I’ll call Bob. Bob offered this training under an affiliate arrangement. That means he earns a commission on each sale. That’s fine; the process is used frequently in the network marketing / home-based business world. He and other affiliates were competing for their own sales awards. To attract customers, he offered various prizes, one of which was some cash.
On July 29 he sent me an email informing me that I had won a cash award. My name had been entered in a drawing when I purchased the training. That was rather delightful news to me. Bob mentioned that he’d transfer the funds via PayPal in three to five business days.
One week later, when the funds still hadn’t arrived, I sent Bob a message. In it were two questions: one related to the winnings and the other on a different topic. He replied promptly, but addressed only the second question. He said nothing about the money that I had won.
On Aug. 12 I sent another message. I asked directly: “Is the money on its way?”
Because I haven’t heard from Bob, I can only speculate what’s going on. Here is what I believe happened:
Bob realized at one point that he erred in sending the message to me. Some other guy named Tom won the contest, and was supposed to receive the message (and funds). Bob is all beside himself over the error, and isn’t quite sure what to do. In the meantime, he’s done nothing. That’s the worst possible approach to take. If he thinks this matter will simply fade from my mind, he’s mistaken. Though upset about not winning, I’m more disturbed by his handling of the situation.
How to handle mistakes you make
Look, people make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. I’ve made mistakes, in both professional and personal settings. It’s embarrassing as heck, but you have to learn to deal with them. The first step is to acknowledge the error and apologize. He could’ve sent a message like this.
Hey, Tom, I am really sorry. I made a mistake. Another customer named Tom won the contest. I quickly sent out the e-mail without making sure of the address to use. Please accept my apologies.
A good way to soothe over sore feelings, as I note in another post on this subject, is to offer a replacement option of similar value. In this case, Bob might say,
I know how you must feel right now. While I cannot offer another prize, I would be happy to offer you three hours of coaching about blogging, network marketing, or whatever you like. Perhaps I can help you build your business and earn that prize in new sales. Does that sound fair?
You see, he’s made a nice gesture, and tossed the ball into my court.
Think about this the next time you are dealing with a customer complaint. (And make sure you read both blog posts referenced above.) Business people tend to overreact to a complaint. They assume the customer will ask for the world and flee on a moment’s notice. Some will, of course. Don’t fret over those.
True customers are mature, understanding and forgiving people. Treat them properly, and they will let the matter pass. Just remember to handle all complaints. Not doing so only makes matters worse.
What types of customer complaints do you deal with? How do you handle them? Feel free to comment below. And if you liked this column, could you do me a favor and share it with others? Click on the buttons below. Thanks!
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