Have you ever had a disagreement with a customer? Of course you have! How you deal with the disagreement can not only save that sale but get you a customer for life.
Here's why. Too many people feel powerless in so many areas of their lives these days. And, when they feel they've been "wronged" by a salesperson or company, they are very willing to quickly go into anger and battle mode. It's up to you to turn that around.
The customer is not always right. Sometimes they are so wrong it can drive you to distraction. But, would you rather be right or would you rather keep the customer? One thing I see and hear too often is the salesperson or customer service rep say something like, "I'm sorry, but…" That is not the way to save the situation.
My friends Pace and Kyeli Smith in Austin, TX have written a book called "The Usual Error: Why We Don't Understand Each Other and 34 Ways to Make It Better." You can read about it on Amazon by clicking the cover of their book on the right of the screen. They also have a great website at Freak Revolution if you're interested in changing the world.
Here is what they say about saying "I'm sorry."
If you're about to say, "I'm sorry, but…", don't.
Instead, say "I'm sorry." Period. Full stop. If you have reasons or explanations, save them. If you're apologizing, simply apologize. Bring the rest of the story into it later, after feelings are soothed, or – here's a crazy idea – not until you're asked for it. They're not going to listen to your reasons or explanations when they're hurt or upset or angry – which they most likely are to some degree, if you're apologizing.
They will, however, be more open to listening and discussing the situation after they feel better, so wait to tell your story until then.
Communicate with compassion, and real communication will happen.
This is great advice for all of us – not only business people. There are plenty of books with advice and techniques for dealing with dissatisfied and angry customers. I like saying, "I'm sorry. What can I do to make things right?"
Then do what they ask. Nine times out of ten the demand won't be unreasonable. For that one that is I still recommend doing what they ask if possible. You'll get more good will and they will spread the story of how great you and your company are at taking care of their customers.
If you don't, you'll end up with blog posts and web sites spreading negative stories about you. Just Google Dell, Comcast or Verizon Sucks for examples.
Listen First – Make Things Right – Sell Again.