Who Do You Save?
As much as you want to please and appease your customers, you gotta draw the line somewhere. And when a situation escalates to an unreasonable or abusive level, it’s time for you to step in. Ask yourself, “Who has more value here, the disgruntled customer or the dedicated employee?” Sometimes you’re better off losing the customer – and sometimes you’re not. Here are a few steps to help you defuse those customer conflicts and decide when to put your employees first.
Trust Them: Conflicts are more likely to arise when the employee is forced to seek out manager approval before making a call – thereby delaying the customer and giving them just one more thing to add to their roster of complaints. Train your employees in the fine art of conflict management and allow them to handle these situations as they arise – your customers will thank you.
Hear Them Out: Automatically disregarding your employee will make them feel like you don’t have their back. So, even if the situation seems crystal-clear, make sure you listen to both sides of the story. If they are in the wrong, this is the time to discuss how it could have been handled differently – with any luck, you won’t have to deal with the same problem in the future!
Remove Them: If the situation has reached a critical level, remove the employee from the situation. This could mean handling a simple transaction yourself, but it could also mean removing them from an account or project entirely. In this case, losing a customer could cost you much more than sales and revenue – and keep in mind that “buying” a new customer can cost up to five times more than retaining existing clients.
On the other hand, if the customer has transitioned from angry to abusive, you may want to consider removing them instead. After all, good employees are just as hard to come by as good customers – and abusive customers can significantly raise your turnover rate. Studies show that losing a salaried employee can actually cost you as much as two times their annual salary; factor in the cost of hiring their replacement (a hefty investment of both time and money) and you’ve got a pretty big loss on your hands.
There may not always be a win/win situation – it’s up to you to assess the problem and determine the best possible outcome (ideally, one in which both your employee and your customer walk away without a scratch). However, if either party is a repeat offender, it might be in your best interest to part ways.
How do you handle the crabby customer conundrum? How do you decide who to save? Leave a comment and let us know!