3 mistakes in difficult situations with the customer

I have been cooperating with clients from around the world for over 17 years, during which I experienced many difficult situations. It allowed me to work out and prove good practices in building long-term relationships. No matter where your customer comes from, he/she expects:

  1. You listen and treat him/her as your most important customer
  2. You meet his/her need and not sell your product instead
  3. You provide various solutions and let him/her make a decision
  4. You speak his/her language

Therefore, I would like to highlight three common mistakes in building customer relationships in difficult situations.


Mistake # 1: Do not contact the customer in critical situations


I worked with an American customer, publisher of a weekly printed magazine. After a few years of our great cooperation, an accident happened. The whole edition of the weekly magazine has been completely destroyed in transport (fortunately no one got injured). How can you tell your customer that the weekly magazine will not be released this week? Of course I could not tell him. Instead, we immediately launched the emergency plan prepared earlier – we produced the weekly again and divided the transport into smaller cars to speed up the transport. In the meantime, I contacted the client and explained what happened and how we solved it. I asked what else we could do to speed up the distribution on his side. The customer indicated a different delivery address, which was the next stage of its distribution. The weekly appeared on time. What did I learn? Preparing the solution, open communication with the customer and engaging him in the action plan allow customer to take his own actions.  Thus we strengthened the reliability and credibility as his business partner.


Mistake # 2: Do not contact the customer after you delivered your product


Imagine that the customer has just received your product, and you acknowledge that if  you do not hear from him/her, everything is OK. After a few weeks, you contact your customer with the question when the next project starts and you find out that your product was completely different from the one he ordered. The customer was so angry that he did not even want to lose energy to contact you. Guess, would the customer still order anything from you?


Mistake # 3: Complaint – Run away!


It happened – a complaint! You know that all was buttoned up to the last detail, delivery was on time and you were 100% with hands on the project:

  1. keep calm and separate the problem from the person – he is not targeted at you, but at the situation.
  2. let the customer speak and express his frustrations – allow yourself to listen carefully and put yourself in customer’s shoes. Assure that you as much as him want to solve this situation. Have full control over this conversation.
  3. determine the facts and get as many details as possible from the customer after you let him express any regrets giving him the feeling that he was heard. Ask questions (not the scripts) showing curiosity and interest. Imagine that it is the opportunity for you to improve your products and grow your business.
  4. prepare at least 2 solutions . Give the customer the opportunity to make a decision giving him the feeling of being the number 1 customer.
  5. act and let the client know how you operate in difficult situations. This is the opportunity that the client offered you to build long-term relationships.
  6. Call the customer after a few days and make sure everything is OK. Believe, the client will come back to you with the next projects.