Ordinarily, I am a patient and agreeable person. Lack of communication recently with a property management company I will not name has brought me to my wits’ end. I accept responsibility for allowing myself to transform into a raving monster, but I also know that my Jekyll and Hyde routine was not entirely my doing. After some calming breathing exercises, I thought I might share some service reminders for startups to avoid customer disconnect when something goes haywire.
Let your customers know when something has gone wrong.
No one likes surprises. If you know something is wrong, let it be known. Or, if you suspect something has gone wrong, take action to either confirm or erase all room for doubt. Banks do this sometimes annoyingly so, placing a hold on credit card activity when they suspect a fraudulent charge. This can create a passing inconvenience, but is far less troublesome than a lot of other potential outcomes. When the awkward moment passes and there’s space for reflection, gratefulness for pro-active measures taken on the customer’s behalf usually brushes aside irritation.
Keep customers in the loop
Once attention is raised, it’s infuriating to not be informed of progress. Even a lame attempt to let the customer know you’re still busy working to fix a problem, “We are currently trying…” blah, blah, blah, prevents stoking anxiety into full-blown rage.
Explain circumstances clearly
When Netflix announced the splitting of their mail and streaming services, the company was barraged with negative feedback. CEO Reed Hastings admitted to a poor job of explaining the reasons for implementing change. Confused customers=escalating damage control.
Bizelo founder Ron Schmelzer switched servers to avert a potential crash. Just to be safe, he sent emails to customers explaining why they might have experienced temporary outages or data issues. Instead of complaints or worries, he received a flood of emails expressing confidence in the company. What customer doesn’t appreciate honesty and transparency?
Engage customers sincerely
Remind me that you’re grateful for my support, my business, and that you appreciate the simple fact that I chose you. Even when I’ve behaved like a maniac and called more times than necessary and you’ve had to repeat information and provide assurances like you would for an upset child.
Welcome feedback. Irate customers or unhappy customers can make life miserable–I waited tables for nearly twenty years, and I’m no stranger to insult–but emotions aside, disgruntled guests often impart useful information. Some people you just can’t please; most have comments worth consideration that may even indirectly point the way to improving business and future customer relations. If nothing else, difficult customers provide a lesson on how to interact with some one should the same situation arise again.
Especially in the startup game, there are several companies that bear strong resemblances to one another. Great customer service will always set a company apart. It never goes out of fashion. Even when it goes unrecognized, it’s always valuable. If you want to stand out from the competition, great service is a can’t lose way to build a reputation and draw attention to your brand.