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Turning customer complaints into future referrals

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Turning customer complaints into future referrals

A few years ago I had a number of windows replaced during a remodel of my home. The windows looked great until the first big rain when I noticed water dripping along the side of one of them. Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy when I picked up the phone to call the contractor who did the work. My mood changed quickly, however, once I starting talking to the contractor’s receptionist who listened to my concern, asked me a few clarifying questions, and immediately scheduled someone to come out and resolve the problem.

Would I recommend this company to others looking for a good window and siding contactor? Absolutely! In fact I’ve given the company’s name out multiple times since then.

Mistakes and misunderstandings happen in business. But it’s how a company reacts to a customer’s concerns (even those irate calls) that has a huge impact on your future business. In short, it pays—in dollars and cents—to address unhappy customers and do everything you can to remedy the situation. In fact, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

Next Monday marks the start of customer service week. So it seems fitting to share a few service tips on how to handle complaints and turn those unhappy customers into some of your most loyal:

  • First, ask for a minute to write down the complaint, noting you want to avoid this situation in the future. This should take the heat off you and allow your customers time to organize their thoughts.
  • Repeat the complaint so customers are assured of being heard and there’s no room for misunderstanding.
  • Ask for more details—as well as other problems. This is your opportunity to flush out every gripe you can.
  • Thank customers for bringing their concern to your attention and show empathy for what they may be going through.
  • Ask questions to uncover whether customers have expectations on how the situation should be resolved.
  • Commit to a next step and follow through in a timely fashion. If steps are taking longer than what you promised, proactively reach out and let customers know about the delay.

If you’re like most businesses, you are only hearing from 4% of dissatisfied customers.* That leaves 96% of customer concerns you don’t have an opportunity to correct. Finding ways to proactively reach out to your customers to understand their concerns is also an important step you may want to take.

A growing number of contractors are using CRM software to improve their customer service as well as business development and sales efforts. Want to learn what CRM can do for your construction business? Download this infographic.

*Source: 75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes, & Statistics; Help Scout

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