Accentuate the Positive

By Christine Neuberger

No doubt you’ve heard of the 3-11 customer rule. It holds that a happy customer will recommend your business to three people, but an unhappy client will broadcast negative comments to up to 11 people. How do you overcome the 3-11 rule? With an upbeat attitude and positive response to any potentially volatile situation. Eileen O. Brownell, author of 12 Secrets of Unforgettable Customer Care (Star Publications, 2000), offers these simple techniques for turning a difficult customer into a living advertisement for your organization:

Use positive words. Avoid such terms as “problem” when describing the client’s complaint. Negative words reinforce the customer’s view that something’s wrong – and perhaps you can’t fix it.

Put aside emotions. Calm down an angry, frustrated customer by using a pleasant, even voice. Remember the client is rattled by the situation, not mad at you.

Create remedies. Offer a reasonable solution for the problem. Don’t make a customer compromise her feelings or values. Show concern for the client, not only the dollar.

Offer options. If possible, provide the client with the chance to choose a solution. That gives him a sense of control and better feelings about himself and you.

Transform negative feelings into positive feelings. No matter how difficult the client, work with her to make her feel good about your company. If she does, she’ll return.

Focus on what’s likable about the client. Make a customer feel valued by finding the customer’s positive characteristics.

Speak in terms of what you can do. Don’t remind customers of things you can’t do, like accept personal checks. Communicate positive options.

Project a positive physical image. Keep your business environment clean and organized – or the atmosphere will turn people off and undermine their confidence in you.

To get more great tips for handling customers click here.