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When a Customer Has Done Everything to Get Your Goat

You try to make your customers happy. You sincerely WANT them to be pleased with your products and service. You go out of your way to provide quality and integrity in everything you do.

So, why is it that every once in a while there's a customer who insists on totally, absolutely and completely pissing you off?

How long is a string?

There are some questions, the answers to which, will always elude me. Are you with me on this?

I received an email message from a customer who must have not only have awoke on the wrong side of the bed, but must have also found himself in the wrong bed, in the wrong bedroom, in the wrong house, on the wrong block, in the wrong city, and in the wrong life. As I read this message, I was seething with anger -my hands literally shaking.

Wanting to somehow reach through my ethernet connection to find the neck attached to the head of the person who could be so rude was my first priority.

What do you do at this point? How do you satisfy the irrational?

ANSWER: You don't.

Romans 12:20 says, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

This is what I attempted to do in my reply to Mr. Disgruntled. Here's a formula that you can use; and if you do this, the satisfaction will outweigh - many times over - the anger you initially felt.

Step 1: Stop. Close the email. Put down the poison mouse and walk away.

Step 2: Consider the situation carefully. Can you imagine a time and place where you might have blasted someone in the same way? Is there even the tiniest hint of legitimacy to the claim of this angry customer? Things aren't always as you might perceive them. There are always multiple sides to every story. Does this condone abusive behavior? Of course not.

Now, if the answers are "no, No, and NO, this is unjustified", stick with this formula anyway. When you've done what's right, you'll be the bigger person and your self image will be elevated.

Step 3: Now that you've cooled off, draft your reply. Answer question, comments and complaints with cool and exacting detail. If the complaint is a product problem, test it. Also understand that with the proliferation of different computer operating systems, your test results may not match the results of others. Explain only what you know for certain (this version of this software on this operating system with this service package, etc.) Keep an open mind that your experiences are not always shared by others.

Step 4: Spell and grammar check your message. This might seem like a funny thing to include here, but haste leads to errors and errors can erode the potency of your reply.

Step 5: Print your message and read it out loud to yourself. Is it coherent? Have you addressed everything? Is your reply laden with sarcasm, anger or spite? If yes, Start Over.

Remember, you provide awesome customer service and will not be shaken by small minds or ill tempered customers.

Step 6: Sign your message. This is the last thing that the customer reads and if you blow this, everything said prior will have little or no meaning. Leave them no doubt that you are, above all else, a professional.

Step 7: Click send.

Yow! That feels good.

Two additional options that you may consider are...

Option 1: Call the customer if you can find their phone number. You'll be blown away at how attitudes change instantly when your customer hears your voice live at the other end of a phone connection. It's miraculous.

Option 2: Refund their money instantly. Cancel their membership. Remove every trace of their contact information from your mailing lists. AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE. In some cases this is the prudent thing to do. You won't please everyone, and 14 different email messages over the course of 8 days isn't worth the $19.95 sale. Cut bait and run.

You try to make your customers happy. You sincerly WANT them to be pleased with your products and service. You go out of your way to provide quality and integrity in everything you do.

Outstanding! Keep up the good work.

Copyright 2005 Ron Hutton

Ron Hutton is a 20 year sales and marketing veteran with a passion for coaching and training. Subscribe to "GoThrive Online", for big juicy marketing tips in small, easy-to-chew, bite size servings. 17 Free Cool Tools... http://www.gothrive.com

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