Customer Recovery

Based upon my last post about customer memory it seems hopeless to even think it’s possible to gain back the customer who had a bad experience. The raw truth is that it is very, very difficult.  

But if you’ve got the heart for it, customer recovery can be a very rewarding experience.  Not to mention that customers that are won back after a bad experience can become extremely loyal.  

In order to really recover a customer who’s had a bad experience you need to answer and deliver on four questions: 

Are you aware?

Are you argumentative and defensive or open?

Are you willing to pay back what the customer lost?

Are you willing to go beyond your everyday standards and procedures? 

Are you aware?

So many of us are simply not aware of, oblivious to, or in denial that our offense to our customer was so bad that we lost them. We may even have customer feedback systems in place.  We get comments, send them a coupon, and go on with our day.   Check. 

But that is surface awareness.  Underneath it all there could be seething dissatisfaction and growing bitterness toward your brand. We need to be hyper-aware, super-sensitive, and in tune with the emotions of our customers.

Are you argumentative and defensive or open?

Often when we try to explain our mishap to our customer it turns into defensiveness which then turns in to some form of argument.  Neither defensiveness or argumentativeness win the customer over.  As a friend of mine used to say, “it’s not about who’s right, but what’s right.”  What’s right is pleasing the customer. 

Openness doesn’t mean the customer is “right” rather it listens to the emotional frustration of the customer, acknowledges it and finds a solution.  

Are you willing to pay back what the customer lost? 

Every customer knows that a coupon is your attempt to placate them rather than solve their frustration.  Instead you must pay them back for their troubles.  You must get them focused on the incredible awareness you have of their feelings and their needs.  You must give them what they paid for.  It must be at least equal to the amount they paid for your product or service, more an additional something shows your sincerity and desire to please them.  

If it is a burger, give them back a burger and fries.  If it is a hotel night’s stay, give them back two nights stay.  If it is a desk that was broken or scratched, give them a new desk and a chair.

The message here is: don’t placate them, please them. In fact, don’t just please them, Wow them!

Go beyond your everyday standards and procedures? 

Measures to gain back a disgruntled customer will probably cause you to break existing standards and procedures.  

If your standard is to never sell a piece of furniture off the display floor, but your promise to deliver an ordered item to just got pushed out because the manufacture can’t deliver, break that standard, if the customer will allow, and deliver the display item.  

If you are and airline that has a procedure that is to fill every seat, because of COVID, you need to break that policy and keep middle seats empty, showing their safety rises above your procedure.   

If your store is closed on Sundays, you may have to open it, just for one customer because they need to exchange some article of clothing for a special event that day.

Going beyond means the customer is before some standards and procedures.   

When we answer and deliver on these four questions we have a good chance our customer will come back and in fact become raving fans. 


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