STRAINED CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

2. March 2008, 22:23 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

After a conversation with a friend about their loss of a client I thought it would make a good article. After all, retention of current customers is as important if not moreso than the acquisition of new clients.

It is an unfortunate fact of business that not all your clients will be satisfied all of the time. A bad experience with one employee, a frustrated misunderstanding or miscommunication is sometimes all it takes. The second unfortunate fact, is that people are more inclined to discuss their bad experiences than their good experiences. There can be a good side though - an unhappy customer you can appease tends to be more loyal than a regularly happy customer. The important thing is to show that you acknowledge and respect their concerns and are serious about rectifying any problems.

The first thing to do is find out what went wrong. Don't guess, or act on supposition but ask the client directly. While no one likes to hear negative views, it is essential to involve the customer and can lead to improvements throughout your operation. When at all possible this interview should be conducted by a manager or the owner. As customers need to know they have been heard, give them the chance to vent a little and then restate the complaint back for confirmation so there are no misunderstandings and the client knows you were actually paying attention. Acknowledge any errors and express regret openly. Ask the customer for a suggestion on how they might fix any problem. They will usually have something reasonable in mind and it can often defuse further anger and resentment.

As appropriate provide a replacement, additional service or future discount and maybe a follow-up letter expressing appreciation for their help in improving your service. Most importantly, ensure such problems don't arise in future. It can take a bit of effort but you will likely not only retain the customer but such a relationship will probably be more solid than ever.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: client,relationship,strained,saving

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