Anne M. Obarski

Article Summary:

How to handle a cranky, dissatisfied customer and win them over to your business.

Dissatisfied Customers: How to Deal With A Cranky Customer

I just read the following,” The latest results from the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index show a continuing decline in consumers’ happiness with the goods and services they are receiving”. 

Are you surprised by that or did you just shake your head and say, “I totally agree”?

I have had the pleasure of capturing lots of examples of great customer service to absolutely pitiful service during my recent moving experience. Everything from setting up phone service and finding a new bank to finding a good dog groomer and hair stylist for me and every possible service in between has shown me that referral business is powerful! 

I find the older I get the less patience I have.  I don’t have time to do “research” to find out the best businesses to use.  I do the next best thing; I ask people who I trust who they would recommend.  I also find that I don’t ask more than one person!  Everyone’s reputation is on the line! And it is really interesting how easily people share their resources and seem proud to do so. 

This move taught me a big lesson.  The one company that was the worst example of service and business skills happen to be the one business that I chose because it was the only one available and it was the cheapest.  To say they made me “cranky” is an understatement.  Worst of all it was the mover I used and I am still finding broken things as I un-pack.  Do you think their name will pass through my lips when someone says, “Anne, I need a mover, who did you use”?  Not in this lifetime would I recommend them.
So what things did they do or didn’t do that made me a cranky customer?  They are probably the same things that make you and your customers grimace.  Let me say, that with just a little attention to the details in a business, you can turn that cranky customer into your number one cheerleader!

C= Communication Pitfalls
  Hearing and listening are two different things. I believe most businesses make customers cranky by not “listening” to what they want.  Here is an example.  I found a new hairstylist and told her, “I like my hair styled with some soft curls, definitely not straight.  When she finished doing my hair it was poker straight and she said, “Is that good enough to get you out the door”?  Out the door??  Did she hear what I said?  Her lack of paying attention will cause me to try another hairstylist the next time!  Customers get cranky when you don’t pay attention and do your best at satisfying their request.

R= Responsibility Sharing
Take responsibility for getting the job done right.  Most of us are tired of businesses make excuses.  “My computer is down”; ” That’s not my department”; “I just started here”; “I don’t know how to do that”; are all “lines” that we hear employees say that make us cranky.  It is the responsibility of every company to hire and train and equip employees with the tools and answers they need to satisfy their customers.  If your employees ever used one of those previous lines on a customer then I will bet your customer felt cranky. Customers get cranky when you waste their time and don’t have the answers they need!

A= Aware of Employee Performance
Do you know how your employees represent your company?  I think about big companies and I think about the thousands of employees they have and how each one of them represent that big company everyday.  I may never meet the president of a big company but I meet their “representative” everyday I do business with them.  I form an opinion about a big corporation based on the work performance of one of their hourly employees. 
When I moved a few weeks ago I hired a national company to complete the move.  It took them two days to load the truck with literally a lifetime of belongings to be squeezed on a tractor trailer. 

The team that loaded the first day was dressed in matching polo shirts and was extremely organized and polite.  The next day was the exact opposite.  The team that worked the first day was sent to work elsewhere and I had two guys that arrived four hours late.  They were in old ripped tee shirts and I really had no idea if they worked for the moving company or not.  They literally threw things into the back of the truck because they said they were “running late” and need to finish packing the truck so they could go home!

As they were leaning on the back doors of the truck trying to push the doors closed so they could lock it, I wondered, “Does this company know what kind of people that are representing them”?  Customers get cranky when employees do not work as though they respect the company they work for.

N = Noodle
Did you use it? When was the last time you heard someone say, “Use your noodle”?  I admit, it is an old cliché but it makes perfect sense in business.  Using your “noodle” means to use your brain and think for yourself.  Customers just want an easy answer to their problems and they need you to provide that answer as quickly as possible.
It is even better if you can use your “noodle” and save the customer some money!  Most employees have gone through a training program and learned the basics but when it comes to applying them to real life situations, they get stumped. 

I was buying a set of chair cushions the other day and I was trying to make up my mind between tufted and an un-tufted style.  The salesman very calmly said, “You won’t sink down so far in the “un-tufted style”.  Not rocket science, just a plain and simple comment that made me think, “He was using his noodle”!   Customers get cranky when employees aren’t problem solvers.

K= Kind
A simple four letter word that keeps customers coming back.  If I had a choice of what one word I would want to describe my employees, I think I would want it to be “kind”.  A kind employee doesn’t pre-judge or humiliate customers. They satisfy the customer and never in an egotistical way.  They never raise their voice, they are understanding, they smile and they know how to develop a relationship by being kind.   Which one of your employees would you describe as being “kind”?  Customers get cranky when employees are less than “kind”.

Y= Young
Are you up-to-date in how you run your business? Many assumptions a customer makes about a business have to do with first impressions.  Those first impressions can be based on advertising, a physical building, a website, a company’s inventory, and even the look and dress of the employees.  Right or wrong people make assumptions.  If businesses aren’t current on their website, why would I think they are current on how they run the business or the newest products that they could be carrying? 
Newer, better, and faster are all part of your customer’s vocabulary.  Customers get cranky when they find out there was a newer version of something and you don’t have it!

It’s easy to say, “Stop being so cranky”, but the truth is, we usually have a valid reason for that furrowed brow we wear.  The faster our pace of life gets the less patience we have with people in general.  What did you do today in your business to make a customer “cranky”?  You see, we will never conduct business 100% perfectly everyday in every way.  If you’re lucky, your cranky customers will vocally tell you what you need to do to improve.  It’s cheaper than Botox!

Anne M. Obarski is “The Eye on Performance!” As a professional speaker and trainer, Anne helps companies focus on the profit building service strategies that will keep their customers coming back. Anne presents nationwide keynotes, break-out sessions and customized training in the area of customer service. She has written “Surprising Secrets of Mystery Shoppers” and “Real World Customer Service Strategies That Work“. For more information visit her website at www.merchandise

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