Mistakes. Snafus. Foul Ups. Whatever you call them, they are a part of the world in which we live. For most businesses there is no avoiding them. Oh sure, we can minimize them—but totally eliminate them? Pretty much impossible. Professional salespeople must become adept at overcoming mistakes.
So, what do you do when a customer’s order gets fouled up, a deadline gets missed or any number of other outside factors creep in and mess up a sale or a relationship? (Heck, sometimes we even create the problem ourselves)
First, apologize. Let the customer know you are sorry for THEIR inconvenience. And, guess what? That’s what you should be sorry for—not the lost sale, lost dollars or lost commission, but the inconvenience a customer has experienced. You cannot fake this apology. If it’s not sincere—you are SUNK!
Second, ask what they’d like you to do. I know this is simple and we’ve talked about it in this blog before, but one very short question can diffuse a lot of situations and solve problems: “What would you like me to do?” Ask. And then respond to their request. You may have to go to extra lengths to solve the problem, but take care of your customer (within reason).
Finally, AFTER the situation is rectified then and only then go back and find out what happened and do your best to keep from having the same problem occur again—or at least keep it from happening to THAT customer.
In all of this, sincerity is the key. A customer places their trust in you and purchases a product to solve a problem or fill a need and something prevents you from doing so. You are the professional: take charge and get to the bottom of it. Remember, only after the problem is solved should you spend any time at all trying to determine what caused it. NOTHING will upset an already upset customer more than if they perceive you are trying to determine where the blame should lie instead of getting to the root of the issue.
One thing you’ll notice as you adopt this or a similar strategy for problem solving: customer’s that see you go the extra mile to solve their problems will be your BEST customers. Remember, NOBODY is without problems—what will separate you from your competition is how you handle it!