Go on, I’ll admit it, sometimes I make a mistake. In business, we all make mistakes. But it’s all about how we deal with them. And how we make it right for the customer can have such a huge impact on that customer relationship going forwards.

Recently, I’ve had two instances when I’ve had to complain to a supplier. Now, I’m not a moaner, but on both occasions, I’ve paid for something….but didn’t receive it.

On one occasion, it was actually a service I was paying for. A service I was paying for on a monthly basis. And one month, I just didn’t get it. So, I pointed it out. And what they did was adopt the bunker mentality:

  1. They ignored me.
  2. When they finally did come back to me, they said, “Oh, we have done it.” When they blatantly hadn’t.
  3. When I contacted them again to say, could they refund that month, they just ignored me. And ignored me for over a month, while charging me again for the next month.

So, I’ve now cancelled the service – their attitude and the way they dealt with it has lost them a customer.

On the second occasion, I bought a product for $110, to be shipped from the US. I knew that it would take a little while to arrive, so I hadn’t noticed that I hadn’t received it until the credit card statement arrived about six weeks later. So, I dropped them an email.

This time, the flow was:

  1. They replied the same day to say, “We’re very sorry about that. We’ll look into it and get back to you tomorrow.”
  2. The following day, they emailed “We’re really sorry. There’s been a mistake, and we’ve not shipped the product. Would you still like it?” To which I replied, “Yes please.”
  3. They shipped the product and also, to apologise the inconvenience, they gave me another product for free.

In itself,  apologising and fixing it had already made me happy. But adding on the additional item has turned me into a raving fan.

They were even extra clever here as they said “We notice you have previously shown an interest in [Product X].” And it was indeed something I had actually viewed before, clicking on a link in one of their emails. So, they knew it was something I genuinely wanted, and they gave me it for free.

And that extra product costs $299, so it’s actually worth more than the initial purchase I’d made! From their end, it was a digital product, so it didn’t cost them any money to give them to me. But the impact it had is that they’ve used a complaint and turned it into a way to strengthen my relationship with them.

So the question is – how do you treat complaints from your customers? And how do you use them? Sometimes, you can strengthen the relationship going forward.

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