Who’s the Boss?

Business to consumer (B2C) relationships can be one of the most complex relationships to have. Unlike personal relationships which have a foundation of emotional attachment, history and mutual understanding, B2C relationships are very temperamental and customers can easily find other “fish in the sea”.
In business, you should always try your best to accommodate the customers’ needs. In fact, this is a critical step in business relationship building. However, accommodating customers has its boundaries. You shouldn’t do anything that would compromise the integrity, security or financial strength of your company. So although you may occasionally bend the rules to accommodate a customer, you should never break the rules completely.
Sometimes you have to show a customer who’s the boss in a very polite, yet assertive way.  Your primary goal is to maintain a successful business while helping your customers understand, that although you want their business, they have to respect yours. Here are a few tips for showing your customers who’s the boss:
1. Create policies and procedures then publicize them and enforce them: Taking the time to create guidelines for how your business will be operated is not only a good practice, but it will save you a lot of hassle when it’s time to apply the rules to a situation. If a customer is well-informed of the guidelines in doing business with you, they are more likely to stay within certain boundaries and respect your decision to enforce the rules.
2. Don’t negotiate too much: Sometimes when you give a customer an inch, they’ll take a mile, which means that if you give them a little wiggle room with the rules, they tend to bend those rules consistently. Remind customers of your terms and conditions when negotiating a deal. Make sure they understand that although you may be negotiating or making an exception this one time, your policies remain in tact and the exception can not be applied to all transactions.
3. Be friendly and firm: Always apply rules of customer service to every business dealing or interaction. However, don’t be so courteous that you are taken advantage of, or worse, you aren’t taken seriously. Customers should respect and appreciate your service at all times– regardless if there are rules they don’t like. So although you may share a laugh, open up a bit or get to know your customer, remember business rules come first!
4. Don’t let a customer’s concerns fall on deaf ears: Being the boss doesn’t mean you shouldn’t empathize with your customers. In fact, simply listening to your customers gives them a feeling of appreciation. Hear their concerns regarding your business because their points may be valuable to your continued success. Additionally, if a customer is having difficulty adhering to your policies and procedures, listen to their explanations. Sometimes customers need to vent before they accept the rules.
5. Make an executive decision: You know what’s best when it comes to your business. You know when to bend the rules, when to enforce them or even when to change them altogether. Remember this is a business relationship, not a dictatorship. So although you may be compelled to make a big decision that impacts customer relationships, keep in mind that rules or processes which are too stringent could backfire and cause additional problems.

These are just a few tips on letting a customer know who’s the boss. For additional tips, please contact me. Do you have tips of your own? Share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.

How to treat the customer who is never satisfied.

As a business owner, you’re pretty  familiar with the idea that “the customer is always right”. I’m sure you’ve tried to apply this rule to even the most disgruntled customer, who is headstrong on proving that your business has the worst product or service they’ve ever experienced.  Perhaps you’ve been apologetic and even sympathetic that they are unhappy, but no matter what, the customer just isn’t satisfied. Although you may want to ignore or  dismiss this type of customer,  there are ways to benefit from their input.
Here are a few tips for dealing with a customer who just can’t be satisfied:

1) Politely ask why they initially decided to use your service. This approach allows you to identify whether their pain is simply a mismatch in supply & demand. If you never had the capability to meet their needs, no matter what you do to rectify the situatuon, your business may never be the right solution.

2) Ask how you can accommodate them. Sometimes, the customer has their own solution for the problem. Ask them what they think would be a good fix for the problem. And as long as it doesn’t compromise your integrity or hurt your pockets too much, simply oblige.

3) Ask if you could use their troublesome situation to help other customers who may be experiencing the same problems, but make sure you focus on your high-level of customer focus too! You can use their woes to develop a comprehensive FAQ, support forum, newsletter topic, etc. Additionally, you can spotlight the customer.  Tag them on social media networks for added coverage of their situation.  Who doesn’t like their name in the spotlight?

4) After you’ve helped the customer, reach out to them with a phone call (yes, actually call them). Even if they’ve decided not to use your product/ service after their bad experience, your level of customer service may convince them to eventually return or at least spread the word about your dynamic customer support. And of course, word -of-mouth is the best form of advertising.

For more tips on satisfying a disgruntled customer, contact me!
Do you have your own tips? Share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.