How To Deal With A Customer Complaint

How To Deal With A Customer Complaint

The thing we all hate happens. We get a customer complaint. It is inevitable that we will all get an unhappy customer at times but it is how we deal with them that matters.

We have two choices. We can either go on the defensive and potentially make matters worse, or we can use the opportunity to learn and improve our business for the future.

Problems are pregnant with possibilities

Generally, unless there is a fundamental fault with the product or service you are providing (and which you need to acknowledge and fix immediately), complaints arise from a misunderstanding between parties.

It may something as simple as an order arriving on a date that the customer believes is late but you believe is on time.  This will lead to you needing to set out your delivery policy in a more clear way.

It may be you supply a product such as a handbag and a customer complaint is the bag is not as large as shown in the picture.  This leads to more details needed with your images. Put the bag against something for scale in pictures or quote measurements.

But whatever the complaint, most can be resolved if dealt with in the right manner.

I met a client recently who had received a complaint and her reaction was to say ‘how dare he?’ and tell me how she was going to phone him and tell him in no uncertain terms how unhappy she was with him.  I can just about guarantee 100% with this attitude that this customer will never do business with my client again and will more than likely tell friends and family never to deal with her again either.

I sat her down and asked her to put herself in the customer’s shoes.  Something had happened that caused him to be unhappy and less than satisfied.  Finding out what this was and how to avoid the situation again in the future was imperative.  She needed to look upon this complaint as an opportunity to improve her business so that she did not find herself in the same situation again in the future and to help her improve customer satisfaction to retain other clients.

And again, very recently, I had someone who lost their key client. Why? Because he dared to complain about the standard of work and she took umbrage at this and had an argument with him over it. She is now left struggling to replace the income he took elsewhere.

How to deal with a customer complaint

Stay calm

The first thing to do is to stay calm and try not to take the complaint personally.  The complainant is usually dissatisfied with the product or service and not you personally.  Try to distance yourself and your feelings and put things into perspective.  Taking things personally will only lead to an emotional response that is likely to make matters worse.

Acknowledge the complaint

You then need to acknowledge the customer complaint and apologise for how the complainant is feeling.  This is not accepting responsibility but is showing empathy for how the other person feels and letting them know you wish to help.

Get the complaint in writing

Wherever possible, ask for the complaint in writing.  Or if the person is complaining to you verbally, let them know you are going to write everything down so you can ensure you have all the facts and do not forget anything.  This can help as when someone starts to write, they can realise how unreasonable they may be or how they may have overreacted somewhat.  Also, if they are in front of you and angry, they will see that you cannot write as fast as they speak and so will have to slow down, which in return will give them more time to breathe and calm down.

Take time to review

You do not need to give a solution immediately if you do not want to.  You can let them know that you are going to review the complaint, look into what has happened and will get them back to them with a response in a specified timescale.

This both gives the complainant the satisfaction that you have listened and something is being done and also gives you the time to consider what has happened and what you will do to resolve the situation.

Decide upon a solution or response

Now you need to get on and look into the situation and decide what you are going to do.  This will depend entirely upon your business and what the complaint relates to.  It could be a refund, a product replacement or simply an apology and assurance it won’t happen again if relevant.

If however, you find the complaint to be unfounded, be careful with your response.  Be clear that you have investigated the matter, fully understand their frustration but then explain why you feel there is not a complaint to answer.

Respond to the complainant

Do make sure you feedback to the customer within the timescale given or be prepared for the complaint to be escalated upon.

Always stay calm, speak slowly if talking to the customer, and assure them you are taking the complaint seriously as you value their custom.

Even if you cannot come to an amicable solution, they will hopefully appreciate that you have taken the time and trouble to listen and try to do something for them.

Document every customer complaint

Now document everything.  Just in case this complaint does not get resolved and is taken further, or resurrects its ugly head in the future, make sure you have all conversations and facts documented with dates and time.

The exception to the rule

There is always the exception to the rule of course and you may have the misfortune to come across someone who complains just for the fun of it.  This person is just out to cause trouble and the best thing to do is to apologise for the way they are feeling and state that you are not a good fit for each other and therefore it will be best to not deal with each other again.  Do not let these people bully you or get you to cave in to unreasonable demands.

Mary Angelou

Just remember, the customer will not so much remember what you said, but more how you made them feel.  Do your best to leave them feeling you took the time to take them seriously and valued their custom.  You may not do business with them again, but it may a good case of damage limitation as if they know you genuinely cared, they are less likely to bad mouth you to future prospects.

Hopefully, by using this method, any customer complaint you have will be dealt with amicably and gain you a reputation for excellent customer care.

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The Best Advice For A New Entrepreneur Today

The Best Advice For A New Entrepreneur Today

In an online forum that I’m in, the questions was asked ‘What’s the best piece of advice you would give to a new entrepreneur today?’

There were some great answers, so I picked out a few to share with you.

Don’t work without a contract, especially if you know them.

Yes!  This was a hot topic in a recent event that I hosted.  We can tend to work on trust with people we know such as family and friends but this is invariably where things go wrong.  We never know what is around the corner and without a contract, long standing relationships can be torn apart.

Invest in your business. Do not rely on free ANYTHING to grow your business

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say not rely on free anything, but yes, if you are serious about your business, you are going to need to invest.  If you rely on free everything, it is going to take forever to get where you want to be.

Stay consistent and remember to always take a break when you are feeling overwhelmed

Yep!  Couldn’t agree more.  Consistency and persistency are key.  Too many give up too early after trying a new tactic for a week or so without results.  It takes time to build your visibility and gain relationships. 

And, yes, it is so important to take a break to rest, reflect and recharge, particularly when we are feeling overwhelmed.

Take action sooner. Do not get stuck in a learning loop

How many courses and books have you studied but never fully actioned?  Far too many I suspect.  Don’t fool yourself you are learning more.  There is no point learning anything if you don’t take what you have learned and put it into action.  I’ve read a book how to get a six pack but still don’t have one because I don’t do the exercises!!

Have set time to work your business. It cannot be a hobby.

If you work ad hoc as and when you feel like it, don’t be surprised when you get ad hoc results.  Schedule work time, get disciplined and work!

Never give up. And don’t take anything on board from people who want to steal your dream. Associate with people who have drive and are positive in their attitudes.

Oh, those dream stealers!  They all want to quash your dream because they don’t have the courage to do what you are doing.  They say you will act and become like the 5 people you spend the most time with.  Choose people wisely.

Dream stealers

Schedule your free time first and always be firm about it. — Work will take up as much time as you give it. So, schedule your free time first and then make the space for work around that.

When you’re on your death bed, (sorry to bring morbidity into this) I doubt you will say you wish you had spent more time at work.  Get your priorities right.  Block out time for friends and family and be present with them 100%.  You can always make more money.  You can’t get more time.

Do your accounting and get everything setup correctly from the start!

Cash is king and is the one deciding factor on your business success or failure.  You must get a grip on the finances.  Very simply, you need to know what money is coming in, what is going out and what is left.  Profit determines success.

Be authentically you, don’t fall for the fake stats and trust your gut. You got it…even when you doubt your ability…Keep on Pushing!

Yes, be you.  You are your business.  There is no point trying to be something you’re not as people will see through you as being fake.

You don’t need your website, business cards or a perfect branding strategy before you start. You need to get started and keep showing up.

True!  Yes, a website and branding can help grow your business but to start with, just get out there and start selling.  There is the danger of trying to get everything perfect before launching but this can take far too long and cause you to miss valuable sales.

Every day do a little something to get you closer to your goal.

This is one of my favourites.  If you take just one step each day, you will eventually be guaranteed to complete a marathon.  Trying to do everything can seem overwhelming and so we end up doing nothing.  Focus on one small thing each day and don’t give up.

Do you have something to add?  Leave your comment below.

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Do You Really Want To Take Your Business To The Next Level

Do You Really Want To Take Your Business To The Next Level

With being successful comes new responsibilities.  And with this comes the panic of how we will cope, how will we fit everything in? etc.  If we are truly going to be successful we are going to have to step outside our comfort zone and step up to the plate.

Maybe this has happened to you.  You are in a comfortable place right now where everything is manageable.  You can choose exactly what you want to do each day and it’s all a bit cosy.  And the thought of taking your business to the next level scares you.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to decide if you really want to take your business to the next level.

But how?

You need to go back to the beginning and decide what you really want in life.  What is your end dream?  Is it with a bigger business, having someone help with the organisation and admin and with a bigger income?  Or is it staying at a comfortable level working alone a few hours each week.

How do both of the scenarios make you feel?

If you want the big bucks but it makes you scared, you are going to have to learn how to step out of your comfort zone. The first thing is to plan.  How are you going to scale up and cope with more clients?  What hours are you going to work?  What help will you need?

By having a plan you start to take control.  The fear of success usually comes from a feeling of being out of control and your business running away from you.

You may also be feeling aware that as your business grows,  you become more visible and people expect more from you.  Your responsibilities grow.  This is why it’s important to plan your business growth and to take it slowly so you don’t suddenly have a shock to the system which you can’t cope with.

Think of famous people who have suddenly become overnight successes who simply weren’t ready for it.  They didn’t last long as they weren’t prepared.  They weren’t ready for the increased public scrutiny, the lack of privacy and lifestyle change.

Think about what you fear if you really hit those heights of success.  How are they going to impact your life and then think about how you can cope with these?  What plans can you put in place along the way to deal with these changes?  Would you take on an assistant to help you with planning retreats and organising your diary?  Would you collaborate with someone else in your field to take some of the pressure of yourself?  Would you hire a childminder to help with the children.

Take time to think all these areas through so, as I’ve said previously, you are prepared and have a plan in place to deal with each thing as it comes along.

Also, make sure you surround yourself with positive people and those who have already gone through what you are facing.  Use them as a sounding board and to get advice.  Keep in mind the incredible talent you have and how you are helping so many more people by growing your business and use this to get excited.

The fear of success is all part of the journey.  Embrace it, learn from it and enjoy it.

Take a look at the process of transition chart below.  I bet you can immediately identify which stage you are at.  Know that this is a natural part of the process, be prepared for the next stages but keep your eye on the end destination.

You are amazing lovely lady.  Keep going.

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What to do when the money runs out?

What to do when the money runs out?

Everyone tells you to visualise and focus on what you want to achieve and it will come but try as you may, when the chips are down and you don’t know how you are going to pay the mortgage this month, staying positive and seeing a wealthy future is nigh on impossible.

You try to focus but every thought is consumed by the blinding panic of knowing the money has run out. Your chest feels like it is being crushed and you struggle to control the rising panic.

But it will be ok. Just read another self-help book and manifest the money.

Here’s the flaw in the plan.

Manifestation gurus tell you what to do but then also include their disclaimer that things don’t happen overnight. But you need the money now!! You don’t have time to let the manifestation work its magic. Time has run out.

What can you do to stem the rising panic that is threatening to engulf you and suck you in into its dark depths forever, never to return?

Get some perspective.

This will not kill you. There are others who have gone before you and will follow. They have survived and will continue to do so.

Take control.

Sit down and look at your exact financial situation. Do a cash flow spreadsheet. You now know exactly where you are and can now plan to bridge the gap of where you need to be.

Cut costs.

Look at your cash flow and cut out the luxuries. Don’t despair. This is a short term solution until you are back on track. Cancel sky tv. Change your mobile contract to the cheapest available. Cancel subscriptions. You can survive without all these things. Just take a look at those in third world countries. Life doesn’t end when you don’t have 100 tv channels to choose from. And you may just find your life feels freer without them.

Increase income.

Can you take a part time job. Sod losing face. This is about survival! What can you sell? All those clothes you have sat at the back of the wardrobe .. sell them on eBay. Do you have a spare room? List it on Air B&B. 

Talk to someone.

One of the worst things is trying to remain looking super successful to the outside world and bottling everything up inside. This is like a pressure cooker. You will explode. Find someone to confide in. Someone you can be honest with and have a breakdown in front of. Sometimes jut having a bloody good cry and letting it all out can work wonders. It lets off all that steam and allows you to see clearly again

 

Whatever you do, don’t just bury your head in the sand.  Take control and get the help you need.

 

 

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Is it time to call it a day in your business

Is it time to call it a day in your business

Starting your own home business can be exciting, exhilarating and full of hope.  But what happens if the enthusiasm starts to wane when the money does not come rolling in as expected?

All too often, women who start their own home business find them under stress from not knowing when the money is going to start coming in and finding they are having to scrabble around to find funds to pay the household bills.  On top of this comes the added pressure from spouses or partners who may start to ask when you are going to get a proper job and start to contribute to the household expenses.

The initial passion and enthusiasm have been lost and you spend many sleepless nights worrying about the future.

Sound familiar?  If this is happening to you, then I truly am sorry.  I wish I could tell you to hang on in there and not give up but at some point, you will ultimately have to find a way to earn some immediate cash if customers are just not coming forward as expected.

I see this all too often and the pressure starts to build causing excess strain both on your mindset for the future running of your business and also on that of your personal relationships.

Is it time to call it a day, or is there an alternative?

Firstly, a bit of soul searching may be required.  Do you remember why you started your own business?  Do you still have the underlying passion for it and believe in it long-term, or has it become an all too heavy burden that you are seriously regretting having started?

If you think you can regain the passion and truly believe (and have done the research to prove it) that long term the business can be a success, maybe it is just time to have a rethink.  Is there any way of generating immediate income by offering a complementary product or service alongside your existing business?  Do you need to adapt your offering in some way?

Offer complementary services

Perhaps if you offer one to one services you could adapt these to group sessions whereby it becomes more affordable to your clients but you still earn an income.  A make-up artist or beautician could offer classes in how to apply makeup or look after their skin.  A photographer could offer a group session on how to use a smartphone camera to best effect.  If you sell handmade soft furnishings, how about running a basic sewing class?

Find other ways to generate income

Do you have things that you could sell on eBay or do you know of someone who is looking for a cleaner or ironing service?  Is there a local business that is looking for some ad hoc help whilst they have staff on holiday or off sick?  These are things that can easily be run alongside a home business and can create some much-needed income in the short term.

Take part-time work

Or if necessary, could you continue to run the business on a part-time basis whilst taking part-time employed work?

There is nothing wrong about taking on other work whilst you continue to build your business in the background.  It will take longer than you may have hoped but the extra income will help take the pressure off and may just give you renewed vigour to keep going.

One thing that I hear when I present this option to women I work with is that they will lose face and be seen to be failing at their business.  They worry so much as to what others will think of them.  But there is a saying:

“If you’re worried about what people will think, you’ll be surprised at how little they care”

It is far better to face up to the reality that things are not working as you expected and take action than to try and save face and end up losing both your business and possibly your relationship.

If you feel you are between a rock and a hard place at the moment and are struggling to know if it is time to give or not, take 24 hours out.  Go talk to a friend you trust and throw some ideas around.  Think long and hard about whether you want to, and should, continue with your business, or whether there is a workaround in the short term.

And if the decision is made to close your business, just remember, you haven’t failed.  You have just learnt a valuable lesson for the future in what not to do.

 

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How To Have A Successful Business

How To Have A Successful Business

10 TOP TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS

Why is it that two businesses in the same industry can both differ so differently when it comes to being successful or not? Take two hairdressers. One is booked up weeks in advance whilst the other struggles to fill appointments. Why is this? It can quite simply be down to a few simple rules that can dictate the difference between success and failure. Follow these Top 10 tips to a successful business and make sure your business succeeds

Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.

Just because you love your product or service, doesn’t mean that your customer will.  You may think that blue umbrellas are the best thing since sliced bread so, therefore there is a market to sell them, but others may not agree.

You need to listen to what your customer wants to buy and supply that.  Don’t try to force sell them your own personal preferences.

Jumpstart the cash flow into your business

Cash is King and you want to get it coming into your business as quickly as possible.  The early months of starting a business can be the most difficult when it comes to income so think of ways to get that cash flowing into the business asap.

Where possible, ask for deposits up front.  If that is not possible, ask for cash on delivery to avoid long credit terms and late payers.

Find new ways to keep costs low

So many small businesses start up and overspend on things they really don’t need to.  They think they need to go out and buy all the latest gadgetry and office equipment.  Try leasing or buying second hand instead.  Ask suppliers for a discount for an upfront payment.

Do you really need that swish office premises?  Could you not create an office at home.  I once saved a company £12,000 by helping him set up a home office in his garden rather than paying a premium rent for an office he used to meet clients only on odd occasions.

Overestimate expenses and underestimate income.

When you are planning your business and preparing your cash flow, after you have done the first draft, go back and double your expenses and half your income.  How does it look now?  Scary?  Well, this may well be nearer to the truth in the early days than everything going to plan and the world being rosy.

Be prepared for the unexpected expenses and for the sales that never come to fruition.  If you can prepare for this, you will be far more prepared if this worst-case scenario happens than if you rely on healthy sales and low costs which turn out to be further than the truth than you were expecting.

Focus on marketing and sales

You know all about your product and service and how wonderful it is, but your target market won’t until you make them aware of it.  So get out there and tell them.  And then ask them for the sale.  Until you start getting sales, you are not running a successful business, you are running a hobby.

Too many startup businesses focus on getting all the detail perfect or their brand such as their logo, website, business cards etc when they should just be getting out there and going after the sales. Your perfect business logo can be finished at a later date.  After all, when did you make a purchase just because of the perfect colour scheme on a business card?  A name and number will do to start with.

Find ways to upsell

When you make a sale, is there a way to upsell to your customer and thereby increase your income?  All the big businesses do it.  When you go to get a burger and fries at your local drive-through I bet you are asked if you would like a large fries for just a small amount more.  When you buy cards at your stationers, do they ask if you would like to buy a book of stamps?

So think how you can upsell to your customers.  If you sell a service such as coaching can you charge a little extra for a written summary of your session?  If you sell a product, offer an add-on product to enhance the original purchase.  Do you make special occasion cakes?  Offer a photograph of the cake with a gift card for the recipient to remember the occasion by.  Get creative and see what you can come up.

Measure your marketing

In order to know if something is working properly, you have to test and measure it.  The same goes for your marketing.  Too often small businesses start up and run a marketing campaign and then just keep it running.  They don’t actually stop to take time out to see if it is working or not.

Add codes to specific marketing campaigns and ask customers to quote this when getting in contact to receive a free gift.  Make sure you look at the online analytics of any social media or web campaign.  If you fail to do this, you could just be throwing hard earned money down the drain.

Learning more means earning more

You really can never stop learning.  Keep your industry knowledge up to date to stay ahead, or at least in line with the competition.  Learn new skills to help you get ahead in your business, whether how to close sales better or how to increase visitors to your website.  There is so much learning material out there including the member’s club resources on this site so there really is no excuse not to keep improving your knowledge.

It is also widely acknowledged that all the most successful entrepreneurs spend at least 30 minutes per day listening to or reading motivational and inspirational books and audios.  If you want to follow in their footsteps of success, try following this one habit of theirs.

Don’t discount, add value

Too many small businesses fall into the age-old trap of discounting their products or services to try to increase sales.  You may make more sales initially but you will decrease your profits and as happened to a business I was called in to help, customers became all too aware of their constant sales and so stopped buying at the retail price altogether to just wait for the next sale to come around.

So rather than offering a discount, find something of a low cost to you but of value to the client that you can add to the sale to encourage customers to spend with you.  It could be an extra 10 minutes for a head massage if you are a hairdresser.  Or free gift wrapping with a product.

Get a coach

I have said many times in articles, that having an experienced mentor or coach when starting up can have a significant impact on how the business survives in the early months and even years.  Having someone that you can use an objective sounding board for ideas and who can look at your business without the emotional ties, can be invaluable.

A professional coach, mentor or advisor should be able to help in the areas in which you are weaker and can help push you when you need it to stop you procrastinating and delaying your business success.

Now you have your Top 10 tips to a successful business, I wish you all the very best in starting up your business.  Do come on over to the Facebook group to let me know how you are getting on.

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