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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

While running my own floral shop, I deal with lots of different people. Most customers are wonderful and are a pleasure to serve, but I struggle with the customers who complain about every little thing and whom I can't seem to satisfy. Does anyone have any pointers on how to handle those hard-to-please customers?

C. Moore

Answer from our Guest Expert Donna Hall of The Right Answer, Customer Service Consultants

Dear C. Moore:

In my line of work we have a saying, "You can't please all of the people, all of the time -- but in customer service, you'd better try!"

Folks who are always complaining used to baffle me too, but I've learned you can get more bees with honey than with vinegar. I guarantee you'll win them over with your positive attitude. Easier said than done, I know, but here are some pointers for turning those complainers into satisfied customers.

When customers complain:

Immediately Acknowledge their Concern; Don't Dismiss It. Don't get too hot under the collar. Rather, thank them for taking the time to point out the problems they've experienced and really listen to what they're saying. The right kind of complaints can sometimes be a godsend. Through them, you may discover other customers are experiencing similar problems and you'll have the opportunity to make changes and keep your customers. Research has shown that when some consumers are dissatisfied with a service, instead of whining about it, they simply take their business elsewhere. So these complainers may very well save you other customers! There's some food for thought!

Maintain a Service-Focused Attitude at All Costs. Resist the urge to roll your eyes and heave a heavy sigh. Stay cool and focus on their plight. If you can focus on and meet their needs, they'll be singing your praises in no time. Get to the bottom of those complaints. Are their concerns legitimate? If so, is it time to make some changes?

Be a Problem-Solver. This will earn you a reputation for making things right again. Folks love doing business with someone who gets it right. Even if it means bending over backwards, do it. In the long run, your efforts will be worth it.

Be a Quick Thinker and Schmooz. You not only have to solve the problem, but you need to do it quickly. Find the best possible answer to the problems and carry out the solutions promptly. Always focus on total customer satisfaction. As a quick standby for any complaining situation, why not have a handy freebie under the counter? Maybe one of those cute helium balloons with a friendly message on it, or a lovely flower to brighten their day? If this can't melt away any bad feelings, most likely, nothing can.

Ask Them What You Can Do to Make Them Happy. What better way to find out how to please those hard-to-please customers than getting the clues straight from the horses' mouths? Customers like to know that you take them and their suggestions seriously. And I'm sure they'll be able to help you find a solution that will make them happy.

I hope these customer service tips help you with your hard-to-please customers. I know it's difficult at times to maintain control and stay focused, especially during peak times when most businesses usually experience more complaints simply because of the fast-paced, increased activity. But never let down your guard; when customers are served well, they'll feel satisfied, and come back.

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