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The unsatisfied customer: How to turn a bad situation into a great one

Expert Martha Rogers gives advice on approaching an unsatisfied customer and preventing the situation altogether.

In my role as a call center agent I am occasionally faced with an unsatisfied customer. What is the best way to turn a situation like this around and gain customer trust?
There is a wonderful book by Ken Blanchard called The One Minute Apology. I highly recommend it. It won't take you very long to read and it will certainly help you in thinking about how to start this process. If a customer has such a big problem that he takes the trouble to call and tell you, then the first thing you need to do is accept that there is a problem and avoid making excuses. It is very important to let the customer know that you are sorry, that you accept there is a problem and that you will work to fix it.

In a lot of cases prevention can make a huge difference. For example, a friend of ours was the regional director for an insurance company in the southern part of the country, where it didn't freeze very often. On rare occasions when it did freeze, those without freeze insurance would get all sorts of damage and get very unhappy when they called the company and found out they didn't have protection. What our friend did was make sure that everyone was told that while it didn't freeze very often, it was important to get freeze insurance. Also, on those rare occasions when there were freeze warnings he made sure that every policy holder was contacted and told what to do to prevent freeze damage. As a result, everyone was happier. In the future, every dissatisfied customer was sent to the regional director and he turned every one of them into more business because he listened, figured out the problem and found a way how to solve it. He turned those situations into trust.


Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

This was last published in December 2007

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