How to turn difficult customers into huge business opportunities … every time!

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A friend of mine relayed a story he’d heard recently.

A busy beach café owner was asked by a customer for a cheese roll for her daughter.

They don’t sell cheese rolls, they try and keep a simple menu running, as they’re often so busy in their location, to ensure people are served quickly. But they wanted to help out and they had rolls and cheese in stock, so they agreed to make one for her.

They made the roll and gave it to the woman, and she took it onto the beach for her daughter.

A few minutes later, the woman returned, pushed herself to the front of the queue and said:

‘This is no good, my daughter wants the cheese melted: can you put it into the microwave please?’

To which they answered:

‘I’m very sorry, but we don’t microwave sandwiches, but as your daughter’s not happy, we’ll refund your money and you can have the cheese roll on us’.

The woman went away moaning, but our hard-working café owners were busy … with a queue of over 20 people, and thought no more about it.

The next day a review appeared on Google, criticising them for serving a melted cheese roll cold and overcharging for it!

(Which, incidentally, goes to prove that you simply can’t please some people!)

They were really upset and shocked: the review was rude and critical, and they felt hurt and abused as they’d tried to go out of their way to help this lady out … and they’d refunded her money in full anyway!

But, as luck would have it, they managed to rise above their indignation and desire to be abusive in response, and remembered the very simple maxim for today’s hyper-connected, customer-empowered world of two way mass communication.

It’s not what happens to you that counts: it’s how you respond to what happens to you that makes all the difference.

You can turn difficult customer situations into huge business opportunitues.

So they didn’t reply immediately: they slept on it and spent a while carefully crafting a reply to this review, explaining the full story (which of course showed them as going out of their way to help), and explaining their philosophy on food service (why they don’t microwave sandwiches and other points), and how they take pride in what they serve (what they do sell, what they don’t sell … and why).

They knew the facts: they were NOT replying to the difficult customer (and I’m sure they wouldn’t want her back as a repeat customer), they were replying to the world of potential customers out there and creating a record that customers would read for months and even years to come.

Many customers, when searching for a place to go, will often skim a few good reviews, but then immediately filter to the ‘bad’ ones: and the key here is NOT what the customer has said about you – let’s face it, the customer is NOT always right! – but how you responded.

The key lies in how you respond and deal with the difficult customers.

People will judge you on this.

So: how to turn difficult customers into huge business opportunities:

  • Remember: a response to a ‘bad’ review will be read a lot more than a ‘good’ review: it’s an opportunity to tell the world what you’re really like!
  • You can use ‘difficult customer situations’ to review your policies and ensure that all your people know what they are and, most importantly, WHY they’re there!
  • And, you can hold onto the ‘difficult customer stories’ as great training aids and an opportunity for a laugh at a later time!

That’s one good way to turn difficult customer situations into huge business opportunities.

And , if you want some help with this, we offer a simple, hard hitting training system in this area called: ‘We Boobed’ – How to turn complaints into successes. Please contact us for more details.

Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders and managers in independent businesses.

Our systems deliver peace of mind and confidence to caring leaders and managers who have limited time and resources, and want to grow their business … all without sacrificing principles or profits.

To find out more, please click here

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