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5 Steps to Make an Unhappy Customer Happy Again

love We’ve all heard the basic rules of customer service. But they deserve repeating before we discuss how to resolve a customer complaint.

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Rule #1: The customer is always right.

Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1.

These two rules are sufficient most of the time. However, sometimes we must realize:

Rule #3: The customer may not always reasonable.

You must know your boundaries in dealing with an unreasonable customer. If you’re a leader, you must communicate these boundaries to your people so they are effective when customers complain.

5 steps to make an unhappy customer happy again

Step #1 – Let the customer vent.
Before you can attempt to resolve the situation, you must understand it. Find out exactly what is troubling your customer. 

Step #2 – Listen attentively.
While this is really part of Step #1, it is so important that it bears special emphasis. Pay attention to what your customer is and isn’t saying. What are his or her specific objections?

#3 – Restate the complaint or complaints.
Wait until he or she has completely “unloaded”. Then, repeat back to your customer the complaints he or she has registered.

You may say, “Please let me make sure I completely understand your concerns.”  Then restate the complaint.

Step #4 – Assure them.

This is not to say that you agree with him or her. It simply lets your customer know that you recognize how they feel.  There is a difference!    You may say things like:

* “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
* “I can see your point.”
* “I can appreciate that.”

#5 – Find out what they want.

Everything has led to this point.  Simply ask the customer this question: “What would you like me to do?”

If you have handled yourself correctly up to now, you will find they will usually ask for less than you would expect.  If so, give it to them! If not, offer them a reasonable option to resolve the issue. 

Let them decide how they can be happy again.  It will be rare when you can’t find a good solution that makes both of you happy.

Complaints are an opportunity

Good things can come from a customer complaint. You can learn how to improve your procedures.

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georgeI once owned a carpet cleaning business. I remember a customer complained because we didn’t get the furniture put back exactly where she had it. We had a chair misplaced by about an eighth of an inch. From that day on, we asked every customer to look at the room before we left to make sure we had everything in the right place. Our customers were thrilled at this simple change in process!

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Remember this, if a customer is unhappy, they’ll usually do one of two things:

Take their business elsewhere or complain. Which do you prefer?

Research shows that customers, who have had problems resolved to their satisfaction, produce three times the revenue of a customer without a problem. On top of that, they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Sounds like a good reason to try to make unhappy customers happy again!
 

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Next time, we’ll discuss what you have to do BEFORE you hire an employee. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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You Can Avoid the Mistakes that Brought this Business Down

quote There’s a great post by Roger Ehrenberg on his Information Arbitrage site. Roger was an investor, board member and leader in Monitor110, a company that planned to become the internet version of Bloomberg. The team had impressive credentials, but ultimately the business didn’t make it.

Roger spells out the reasons why. We admire him for sharing these lessons because most of us don’t like to talk about our failures. These are mistakes that any of us could make, so he provides a great opportunity to learn from others. But even more than that, it’s the way he wrote about it that impressed us – he doesn’t cast blame; he just discusses the lessons he learned in the hopes that we may benefit. And we did!

That’s why we highly recommend that you read the whole post. We’ll hit his highlights here.
 

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7 mistakes that led to the demise of this business

#1 – No single leader
Monitor110 had two leaders – a technology person who was one of the founders and Roger, who was a business person. Roger said this structure just didn’t work.

This reminded us of the number of times we’ve seen two people start a business. It’s pretty common to split everything 50/50. But it’s a recipe for disaster. In almost all cases, there has to be someone who has the final say for a business to succeed.

#2 – The technology-side drove the business
This made us think of the number of entrepreneurs who start a business in their craft. They’re technically oriented. They love their product or service, but they ignore what the customer wants and needs.

#3 – Too much PR too early
Roger’s company was featured on the cover of the Financial Times. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, would you? But Roger says this raised the bar with everyone – customers, themselves, and financiers … which led to the next problem.

#4 – Too much money
Too much PR. Which led to too much money. Sounds like a company that’s been blessed. But Roger says the blessing turned into a curse.

  • Because of the great PR, expectations went up significantly.
  • Within the financial community, so money flowed in
  • With their customers
  • And most importantly – with the people of Monitor110.

With all these high expectations, they didn’t push a product to market because it needed to be just right. And that didn’t matter because they had a cushion of cash.

#5 – Not enough customer feedback

By now, you see how all of these mistakes were interrelated. Because of the great publicity, they were afraid to show the customers what they had. They didn’t want to disappoint them and be disappointed. But it wasn’t a problem at the time because they had plenty of money. One mistake was feeding another which was feeding yet another.

#6 – Slow to adapt to the market
On a post not long ago, we talked about a military concept called OODA loops. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The idea behind the concept is that by getting into the loop, you gain information. Then, by adapting to what you’ve learned, you gain a competitive advantage.

#7 – Disagreements about strategy
This stemmed from the technology side and the business side not being able to come to terms. It’s also an outflow of Mistake #1 – without a single leader, it’s hard to have a clear vision.

Just get started!

All of this made us think of the saying, “You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going. That’s one of the things that we did with Bigg Success. We talked to a lot of people who had all kinds of great ideas. Some diametrically opposed to each other! We could have easily just got caught in the quagmire.

Ultimately, we just launched. It wasn’t perfect – we knew that. We’ve learned a lot. There are things we would do differently if we had it all to do over again. But by launching, we were able to learn from the most important people of all – our community. We learned from you.

We’re happy to let you know that you’ll be seeing some bigg additions in the near future. So keep checking in and let us know what you think! We’re listening!

 

 

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3 Steps to Solve an Ethical Dilemma

By Bigg Success Staff
08-05-08

Leadership Skills

dilemma

One of the most important leadership skills you can possess is a high moral intelligence.
It may appear that bad behavior is rewarded in the corporate world, but it is usually a very short-term phenomenon. In the long-term, good behavior tends to pay off.

What makes ethical dilemmas particularly difficult is that they often involve conflicts between two or more deeply held beliefs. Consider this admittedly simple example …

A friend of yours just had a baby. He’s the most homely baby you’ve ever seen. While holding her new baby boy in her arms, your friend asks, “Isn’t he the best looking baby you’ve ever seen?”

Now you value honesty. But you also believe you shouldn’t needlessly hurt someone’s feelings. You have an ethical dilemma!

Ethical dilemmas flow upward
All of us are leaders, even if it’s just personal leadership. However, when you start managing others, it’s crucial to have a framework in place to deal with ethical dilemmas. Leaders must learn to apply their values, aligned with the values of their organization, to these situations. Ethical decisions are often trade-offs between:

  • Utility – the value delivered to the stakeholders in your organization
  • Rights – entitlement to something
  • Justice – equitable sharing of pain and pleasure

Because of these trade-offs, leaders must be prepared to deal with ethical dilemmas because these decisions tend to flow upward. So leaders must develop a framework to handle these inevitable challenges.

The benefits of an established framework

There are at least four benefits to putting a framework in place for making ethical decisions:

  • Efficiency – decisions can be made more quickly
  • Consistency – results in more systematic outputs
  • Payback – builds emotional goodwill with your constituents
  • Self-respect – you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror

3 steps to solving ethical dilemmas

#1 – Know your values
There are certain values about which society agrees. For example, we tend to value honesty. Our discussion here isn’t designed to change your values – instead, it’s about applying them. Before you can apply them, you have to know what they are.

If you haven’t formally contemplated your values, or even if you haven’t thought about it for awhile, check out our article on core values.

Application: Create your list of core values.

#2 – Select a model
According to the book, Moral Issues in Business, ethical theories can be divided into two classifications: consequential theories (the formal term for these is teleological theories) and non-consequential theories (formal name is deontological theories).

The following is not a complete list of ethical theories, but it certainly covers the most significant ones for business people.

Consequential theories
With consequential theories, actions are judged by outcomes. If an action results in a positive result, it is morally right. If not, it is wrong.
Egoism – An act is moral if it promotes your best long-term interest.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Useful for decision-making – Ignores wrongs
– Flexible – Ignores interest of others
– Doesn’t build relationships
– Inconsistent (i.e. right for me, wrong for you)
– Can’t resolve conflicts of interest

Utilitarianism – An act is moral if it produces the great ratio of good to evil for everyone.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Useful for decision-making – May ignore wrongs
– Flexible – May conflict with justice
– Recognizes interests of all – Difficult to design rules
– Resolves conflict of interest

Situational – An act is moral if it creates the greatest amount of love.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Humanizes decisions – Lacks definite criteria for decision-making
– Rejects moral legalism

Non-consequential theories
According to non-consequential theories, a factor (single rule non-consequential theories) or factors (multiple rule non-consequential theories) other than the outcome should be considered when faced with an ethical dilemma.

Single rule

Golden Rule – An act is moral if you treat others the way you would wish to be treated.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Personalizes decisions – Needs modification to fit commerce
– Brings fairness into play – We can’t know how others feel and think
– Carries childhood teachings into business

Categorical Imperative (Kant) – An act is moral if you would wish that everyone behaved in the same manner.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Useful for decisions (i.e. do your duty) – Doesn’t resolve conflicts of duties
– Recognizes responsibilities – Subject to misinterpretation of duty
– Provides humanistic dimension – Results of acting on duty can be disastrous
– Respects rights of others

Multiple rules

Prima Facie Duties (Ross) – An act is moral if you fulfill your duties; if there is conflict, fulfill the duty to which you are most obligated. Prima facie duties include, but are not limited to: fidelity, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement, and non-injury.

Strengths Weaknesses
– List of duties is educational in itself – Difficult to determine weight of duties
– Sensitive to consequences – No basic agreement on moral principles

Maximin Principle of Justice (Rawls) – An act is moral if it provides an equal amount of liberty for you and others, except when social or economic inequalities exist. In that case, the worst-off in society should benefit more from the act.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Shows inherent respect for individuals – Concerned only with justice
– Encourages social responsibility by all – Assumes a high level of rationality
– Shows concern for less fortunate – Assumes acting without self-interest

Proportionality (Garrett) – An act is moral if, in engaging in it, you don’t will a major evil to you or anyone else and if you don’t will, risk or permit a minor evil to yourself or anyone else without a proportionate reason.

Strengths Weaknesses
– Synthesizes most useful theories – Definitions are vague
– Provides flexibility without immorality – Highly subjective

You probably noticed that all of these theories have weaknesses. So you may think that selecting an ethical theory is an exercise in futility. However, once you select the ethical theory that you feel is most closely aligned with your core values, you’ll find solving ethical dilemmas much easier. You can recognize the weakness of your method, while feeling confident in your process.

Application: Choose the ethical theory which most closely aligns with your values.

#3 – Use a problem-solving process

Now you know your values and you have a model with which to apply them. The remaining piece is to follow an orderly process to solve the problem, because not all ethical dilemmas are as simple as your friend and her baby that we discussed earlier.

We recommend that you SOLVE IT! That’s our acronym for the timeless problem-solving process. When you follow a process such as this to solve an ethical dilemma, or any problem for that matter, you feel good about your ultimate decision. You know you’ve considered all of the alternatives and chosen the best alternative under the circumstances.

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25 Ways to Lead Your Organization Through Good Times and Bad

By Bigg Success Staff
05-14-08

Leadership Skills

twenty-five 

Leadership is challenging under any condition. In this article, we’ll offer some tips to survive the bad times and to let the good times keep rolling! We discuss five great tips from each of five great articles along with the links to the original articles themselves.

5 Tips to Keep Your Organization’s Knowledge in Your Organization

#1 – Don’t let your best people leave.

#2 – Establish a mentoring program for new employees.

#3 – Share best practices.

#4 – Share lessons learned.

#5 – Document, document, document.

This is a fantastic article on The Providers Edge site. Check out the entire article to learn how to reduce knowledge loss in your organization. *Note that this link will open a PDF file.


5 Key to Overcoming a Crisis

#1 – Keep in mind that business without risk is business without growth.

#2 – Work with the facts. Listen to the market, not your ego.

#3 – Act quickly and decisively. Delay makes things worse, not better.

#4 – Be a proactive leader and clearly communicate your decisions.

#5 – Be resilient and continue to innovate. Success is not forever, nor is failure.

These great tips come from Atsutoshi Nishida, CEO of Toshiba. He was discussing his company’s decision to pull the plug on HD DVD with Yukari Iwatani Kane of The Wall Street Journal. Check out the full interview for detail on overcoming a crisis in your organization.

 

5 Tips to Get the Best Results from Your Employee Training Programs

#1 – Remember that training is an investment.

#2 – Make sure the training is targeted and really needed.

#3 – Establish measurable returns.

#4 – Work with vendors that truly understand your needs.

#5 – Make sure the training is flexible and customized.

Chris Young wrote this excellent post on his Maximizing Possibility blog. You owe it to yourself to check out his complete explanation of his five tips for improving employee training and development during a recession or economic downturn.

… but we’re not done with training yet …


5 Pointers to Train Your People to Up sell / Cross sell

#1 – Tell your people what’s in it for them.

#2 – Give them clear objectives.

#3 – Create a non-threatening environment for role playing.

#4 – Assign them structured skill improvement activities.

#5 – Schedule a follow-up workshop about a month after the initial session.

This is an oldie, but a goody written by Brian J. Geery for BNET. He specifies it as sales training, but these tips are helpful for training for any human interaction. Read details of his five tips to ensure successful up selling / cross selling training.


5 Tips to Keep the Momentum Going

#1 – Reset greater challenges.

#2 – Review individual efforts.

#3 – Re-energize.

#4 – Rewind.

#5 – Recognize and reward.

Understanding these concepts is so important because momentum is such a precious thing. Check out the details on CareerBuilder’s top five tips for maintaining momentum.  

 

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How to Offer Criticism Without Being Critical

image of quote bubbles with the title how to offer criticism without being critical
Today’s blog is about an important relationship-building tool. Learning how to offer criticism without being critical is important at work and home. It’s crucial for leaders and first-time managers.

It’s about understanding when to use your “active” voice and when to use your “passive” voice. It may sound simple, but it’s amazing how many times we get it wrong.

Today, we’ll quickly review active and passive voice, and offer some tips on how to use each one effectively.

Active voice
The subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated more simply, the noun occurs before the verb. The active voice is often more direct and easier to follow.

For example, “You performed exceptionally well on this project.

Passive voice
The action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later.

So the example above, spoken in the passive voice would be, “This project was done exceptionally well by you.”

Note that this sentence actually sounds a little strange stated in the passive voice. That’s often the case.

Use the passive voice to offer criticism.
The passive voice has its uses. For example, which of the following two statements would you rather hear?

“You performed below expectations on this project”

“Expectations weren’t met on this project.”

The first example is in the active voice. So the focus is on “you”, not the “project”. The second example does the opposite – using the passive voice, it puts the focus on the project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so, because it screams, “You screwed up!”

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive! They won’t feel backed into a corner. They feel more like you’re on their side. You’re not fixing the blame; you’re trying to fix the problem with their help.

Use the active voice to praise people.
Going back to our original example, we’ll bet you would feel great if your boss said, “You performed exceptionally well …”

Can you imagine how your performance would improve if your boss said something like that to you in front of all your co-workers? This is an incredible tool for managers to improve the morale of their troops.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

Our BIGG quote today comes from Abraham Lincoln:
“He has a right to criticize, who has the heart to help.”

Actively accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives with your passive voice.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to deal with a difficult co-worker. Until then, here’s to your BIGG success!

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