Find Focused, Quick Answers to Customer Problems, Dealers Advised

Find Focused, Quick Answers to Customer Problems, Dealers Advised

While the old adage "The customer is always right" may be a difficult one to swallow at times, being tuned in to your customers and their needs, and servicing them well, can bring rewards that cannot be measured. A satisfied customer who has a pleasant experience working with your company can be one of your best allies.

Studies have shown that while a satisfied customer will tell two or three other people on the average about his or her satisfaction in dealing with your company, dissatisfied customers will tell their story to an average of 11 or 12 other people.

Like it or not, this is a critical fact of human nature for kitchen and bath specialists, whose businesses rely so heavily on referrals and the good will of potential customers.

Kitchen/bath dealers and designers must follow up a customer's complaints with quick, focused responses to remain in good standing, according to customer relations experts.

The first and most important thing to remember, those experts say, is not to take the complaint personally no matter how it's voiced. If you're a retailer dealing with consumers, remember that in remodeling the kitchen or bath, you're working directly on the intimate heart of the home. In other words, the job you do will have large emotional consequences for your client and his or her family. It's only to be expected, then, that any complaint from your customer will tend to be very emotional, customer service specialists point out.

It is important to remember that, no matter how customers express their complaint, the real problem lies with the difference between what they want and what they perceive they're getting, rather than with you as an individual. And, often what they're perceiving is either neglect or ill will. That's why it's very important as a first step to move from frustration to solution by disarming the customer's anger.

The best way to accomplish this is to instantly agree with the customer, without sounding patronizing. An effective response to a complaint might be: "You're right to be upset, Mrs. Jones. If this happened to me I'd be just as unhappy."

Other suggestions for addressing unhappy clients:

  • Be sure to always use the client's name, experts advise. At the root of many a client's frustration is a perceived lack of personal attention.
     
  • Take ownership of the problem. The worst thing you can do is inform the frustrated customer that he has to take his problem to someone else. 
     
  • If the problem is with one of your employees or subcontractors, tell the customer that you'll personally talk to that person. Don't let the customer feel he's being shuffled off, or that you don't care, or that you're more interested in dodging blame than in resolving the difficulty. Be sure to act quickly to resolve the problem when it develops. 
     
  • Get the customer to explain to you how the problem happened. This demonstrates that you're interested in his input and feedback, and are determined to solve the problem. And don't just listen recount the story back to your customer: "So the tiles that you picked out in the showroom were not the tiles that were installed?" 
     
    This demonstrates that you understand the problem at hand and that you're listening closely. Don't overlook that the customer may be right and don't get defensive if he or she is, and your company has made a mistake
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  • Apologize. Ask what can be done to solve the problem. It may be that Mrs. Jones is happy to live with this tile, if she gets an apology and an acknowledgement that she was right and you were wrong. If not, though, find out what steps in your business process went wrong. It may be that, in the course of solving this problem, you can head off similar problems in the future. 

Lastly, be sure to go back to the customer to be certain that he or she feels the problem has been solved. You want to be sure your efforts have satisfied the customer not just for the customer's sake, but for your own sake, as well.

Dealing with problems creates a lot of stress, and the best way to relieve that stress is to recognize your own success at turning customer problems into mutually satisfying solutions.

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