How To Run Your Own Lawn Mowing And Gardening Business – How To Handle Complaints
We all understand that the key to a successful business is Happy Customers! Problem with this is that we don’t really understand how to handle Un-Happy Customers.
I have been reading an article on “Customer Complaints” from the April 2012 edition of Smarter Business Ideas (a Telstra publication), and the key take-away point for me is that “too few businesses have a system set up so people can make their complaint easily and have it resolved promptly” (quoted from Dr Catriona Wallace, MD of Fifth Quadrant).
At www.LawnGreen.com.au – we promise our customers “Greener Weed Free Lawns”. When we do our invoices, we also include with the invoice a 1 page customer letter with lawn care tips plus a reminder that we take our Weed Free guarantee seriously. Consequently, when a customer rings to say they have a couple of weeds in their lawn, we automatically take their name and address down and tell them we will spot the weeds out within the next week or so. Immediately, the customer is relaxed and Happy again!
Catriona Wallace goes on to say that we should have a pre-organised and highly visible “Customer Complaint” system in place! However, she says it is really important to label it as “Customer Feedback”, not as “Customer Complaints”.
Of course, it is better to have no reason for complaints, however, with a well run business early problems and complaints should be rectified and “nipped in the bud” before the complaint rears its ugly head.
In summary, the 11 steps of “How To Handle Complaints” are:
- Listen to the complaint – and don’t interrupt
- Empathise with the customer – and show the empathy by repeating back what the customer’s grievance is
- Speak calmly – and listen, and take deep breaths, and when it is your turn to talk do so calmly
- Understand the problem and the customer’s complaint
- Understand why the customer feels upset, and how the problem has affected the customer
- Acknowledge the customer’s problem, complaint, feelings, and be sincere about your concerns
- Acknowledge the problem and apologise (always call the customer by name)
- Work out a way to fix the problem – the customer must see a resolution to the problem
- Then give a deadline for the solution
- Agree on a contact plan with the customer – this may well be you solving problem on site, and leaving a business card to say you have been
- Follow the issue to resolution
I guess the up-shot of all this is that we need to Under-Promise and Over-Deliver! You cannot go wrong!