Earlier this year, I hired a contractor to help with my business. Over the week that he was working, there were red flags that came up. I was still willing to work it out, but then he wrote me an extremely unprofessional email with quotes including:
- “While thinking about this project, here’s what I’ve come to: You’ve got to let go of the wheel and let me drive.”
- “This project has frustrated me to the point that I’ve forgot to ask about email setup during the process—now it looks like I don’t even know how to do my job!”
I called the contractor and instead of the working meeting we were scheduled to have, I told him that I was immediately canceling my contract with him and wanted a refund.
The following day after this poor customer service experience, I was at a business networking event and met Steven Roper, a franchise owner of College Hunks Moving and College Hunks Hauling. I was really impressed with Steven’s skills and background when he mentioned he had 37 years in corporate retail management, with a focus on customer service. He is well-known for his ability to understand and have his teams provide excellent customer service, that many have asked him to open his own company and consult big corporations. Instead, he chose to open a franchise that has been quick to success due to providing exceptional customer service.
I had an opportunity to interview Steven Roper and asked his advice on lessons learned around customer service, common mistakes that new business owners make, and what to do with an unhappy customer. He shared the following secrets to keeping your customers and providing better customer service:
1. What would you say is the biggest lesson learned around customer service?
Steven: “An unhappy customer is giving you an opportunity to save him/her. If you’re positive and caring, then you can win their business back.”
2. What are the most common mistakes that new business owners make regarding customer service?
Steven: “New business owners avoid the customers that are having issues and are afraid to resolve it. The longer you wait, the higher the cost! With social media, the worst thing you can have is an unhappy customer posting a negative review.”
Fun Fact: Did you know that over 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
3. What should you do when an unhappy customer asks for refund?
Steven: “It depends on the situation. Usually a customer will ask for a partial refund.”
4. What should you NOT say to an unhappy customer?
Steven: “You never say no. You don’t disagree with him/her. Instead, as you think through the obstacles, you can say…”
‘I understand your concerns.’ or ‘Can we talk through your concerns?’
Steven: “Then, let them get their anger out! Let them express themselves. After the customer has provided you all of their objections and complaints, try to give them options to resolve the issue. In most cases, one of the options will work.”
Steven’s Real-Life Example: There was an issue where a customer was so unhappy that it got escalated to Steven. After Steven took the time to listen to the customer, he learned that the customer felt he was overcharged by $40. Steven offered to refund that amount, and that made all the difference. The customer thanked Steven and said he would do business with him again. Shortly after, he hired Steven’s company to do another project, with a profit margin greater than the original refund.
5. Who do you trust if you get conflicting stories – the unhappy customer or your employee?
Steven, “I always try to trust the customer over the employee. Why? Because while the customers are usually slanted, they are not that far off.”
Great tips and lessons learned from a customer service pro. I wish more people had the heart and foresight around customer service like Steven. Remember, a happy customer is the cheapest marketing! And once you have a customer, your goal should be to keep them for life. Word-of-mouth marketing is free and the most powerful way to obtain new customers, especially important for new and growing small businesses.
Do you have a horrible customer service experience that you’d like to share? What could the business owner have done to resolve things to keep your business? If you’re a business owner – What was your worse customer feedback and how did you handle it? I would love hear your lessons learned and advice!