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Would you rather have 100 satisfied customers or 100 loyal customers? Would you rather have 100 customers who were pleased with your adequate but not memorable service or would you rather have 100 customers who enjoyed your assistance so much that they will contact you to purchase products over and over again?

Stanford Research Institute and Harvard University have determined that business success is 85% people skills and only 15% technical knowledge. This seems to suggest that most customers’ needs cannot be satisfied by technical brilliance alone. Communications skills, a customer service mentality, and knowledge of business strategies and issues must be part of our development as customer service professionals.

For example, how do we handle an irate customer with a legitimate problem? Let me present -

The Customer Complaint – 5 Step Recovery Process


1. Listen – That means Active Listening:

Active listening is listening with a purpose. You can gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interests, show support, or see how another person feels.

2. Restate the problem – Paraphrase:

Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Repeat back or summarize to ensure that you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?" If not, ask them to clarify for your understanding.

3. Apologize – Sincerely!

Remember that forgiveness only happens when someone regains your trust. An apology is not complete if it does not reflect all four of these:

· Regret,

· Understanding of the problem,

· Acceptance of responsibility, and

· A willingness to do better

Insincere apologies:

· Beware of the "iffy" apology : "I’m sorry if I cause any inconvenience." which means, "Your pain is still hypothetical to me, not something I’m convinced of. If there is no "if" about it, say so!

· The "But" Apology: Any apology of the form "I’m sorry, but ____." i.e. "I’m sorry, but you have to understand…" Nothing before the "but" can safely be taken literally.

· How about this one, "Sorry bout’ that!"

4. Fix the problem! - Don’t put it off another day if at all possible. Here is where your technical expertise will most likely pay off.

5. Follow-up – Was the problem fixed to the customer’s satisfaction? Call, e-mail or show up at the customer’s desk or office. Follow-up with your customers and ask them how they liked your service or if they have any questions regarding your product or service. This is a great way to not only provide good customer service, but to also obtain feedback about your product and service. You are also creating the all important "LOYAL" customer.