“Create a recovery plan for every service failure you can’t anticipate or imagine. Then make sure your entire team knows the recovery protocols.” – Lynn Whitbeck in today’s Tip 885
How do you prepare your client relationship when things go wrong?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Lynn Whitbeck. Lynn is the Founder & CEO of Petite2Queen & Future Forward Sales. Here she is:
Lynn Whitbeck: How do you prepare your client relationship when things go wrong? There’s a critical juncture in a client relationship when something goes sideways. We all know even the best, strongest relationships encounter a rough patch now and then. This is the inflection point where the relationship can take a wicked turn for the worse or become stronger through recovery.
Here are my 7 steps to repair your relationship and avoid planting a bitter seed:
1. Keep in sharp focus that this is the point your customer is the most insecure.
2. You need to perform emotional repair.
3. Stop explaining.
4. Engage in dramatic listening.
5. Remember, it’s all about the customer’s perspective.
6. Show that you value the customer.
7. Make it right.
To help frame these steps, I embrace that a complaint is the customer’s way to help us do business better. A critical component for recovery from a mishap is step #2, performing emotional repair. And I have a story that will help illustrate this.
There was a situation where we missed completing the emotional repair necessary for a successful service recovery. Here’s what happened.
Our client attempted to contact us at the end of the business day and our customer service agreement coverage had ended by that time. Thus, there was no one available on the customer service team to take the client’s call. At that point, the next escalation point for the client was me. Unfortunately, I was unavailable for several hours due to a family event.
By the time I retrieved the client messages, they had intensified from urgent to apocalyptic. That evening, I return their calls after hours and left messages, but from the client’s perspective, the damage was already done. For some added background, the client was calling us about their own internal issue, which had become a hot mess. Unfortunately, it transferred and transformed into outrage because they had not been able to reach us in their moment of need. The customer felt their trust had been betrayed.
First thing the next business day we were very responsive. We arranged for an all-hands-on-deck meeting with our two teams. We dramatically listened to the clients frustrations around their inability to reach us, and we helped them resolve the original internal challenge they were facing. We also implemented an after-hours service plan to ensure they would always have access to someone on our team. However, looking back, we failed to meet our customer’s expectations while we rapidly addressed and implemented a physical repair, we did not complete the emotional repair that was required. I know this since every time something occurred down the road with this client, they would remind us or me of this one failure when they were not able to reach us.
So, you know, looking back, we should have spent more time outlining what the customer went through. Understanding their emotions. Service recovery is about what the customer experience moment to moment, and only the customer can tell you what they went through.
Please learn from my experience and don’t skip step #2, emotional repair.
My final piece of advice is to create a recovery plan for every service failure you can’t anticipate or imagine. Then make sure your entire team knows the recovery protocols. That way, your front line can be confident if and when faced with a complaint, because this is the point, as I’ve already mentioned, when your customer is the most insecure.
Great service recovery is planned, managed, and demonstrates how we value our clients. Customers come to us for an outcome of our product, but they remember us for the delightful experience we create for them.
This is Lynn Whitbeck with Petite2Queen & Future Forward Sales. For more sales tips, visit futureforwardsales.com/salestips.
Once you’ve clicked over there, be sure to come back here tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!