Your customer is pissed off. Somebody messed up. The order is wrong, someone lost the reservation, under cooked the pasta, over cooked the steak, the delivery was late, you shipped the wrong item, or otherwise just screwed up the customer experience some way. There’s only one thing you can do…only one thing you can say to quell the anger.
Swallow your pride and say it. Even if you didn’t make the mistake. “I take full responsibility.”
9 times out of 10, the customer’s anger and hostility will be instantly diffused and replaced by appreciation (and sometimes even a little guilt about their angry or confrontational behavior).
I’ve been in business for 32 years. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as have my employees. I realized early on how effective this statement is to resolve a situation.
Just take responsibility for everything. It’s the best way to handle it, even if an employee was completely responsible…just say “I take full responsibility.”
The customer is usually taken aback, both surprised and pleased with your honesty and integrity (which is rare). We are sometimes too eager to defend ourselves, but coming with this sincere and apologetic response, the customer’s offensive softens drastically.
The next thing you say is, “How would you like me to resolve this for you?” Then listen. Usually, the customer’s proposed resolution will be reasonable, and sometimes less than you were even prepared to offer yourself.
If the customer’s suggested resolution is not reasonable, pause. Say nothing. Don’t negotiate. This person already knows he or she is not being reasonable. In the silence, the customer may renegotiate the proposal to something more realistic. Be prepared to excuse yourself and walk away, “Please excuse me, I’ll be back in a moment.”
Take some time to think about it. If the customer is completely unreasonable, it will be evident. You don’t need unreasonable customers. It’s probably best to give him/her what they want OR tell them what you’re willing to do and say “That’s the best I can do.” (Do all you can do without risking a negative public review as this can be more costly than a full refund.)
However, in most cases, 9 out of 10 or better, “I take full responsibility” will be resolution-enough. You will have a customer who admires you, feels good about the transaction after all and will likely patronize you again.
You may potentially end up being publicly praised in the form of a positive online review for making good on a bad situation.
Want to turn an angry customer into a raving fan? Never make excuses. We all make mistakes. Even if an employees make a mistake, it’s still your responsibility. Saying so and taking full responsibility shows your leadership, strength, and integrity…and everyone admires these traits.
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Andrew Mazer, Founder of Mazer Wholesale, Inc. established since 1986. In 1996, I began marketing my wholesale business online. In 2009, I began helping other business owners market THEIR business online. I am the author of The Business Owner's Guide to Marketing Online, The Groupon Solution, and The One Good Idea Newsletter. Contact me at Andrew@smallbusinessu.org