It’s much more difficult to win back a customer’s trust than it is to maintain it. Generally, you should avoid this situation if at all possible, but it’s likely to happen at some point in your career no matter how careful you are. Here are 5 steps you can take to regain a customer’s trust.
1. Acknowledge what went wrong
Whatever you do, don’t try to sweep the incident under the rug. Acknowledge that something did go wrong, and take accountability for what happened. Even if the mistake was not necessarily your fault, as the salesperson you are the face of the product for your customer. Trying to explain your way out of any fault, or to push the blame off to someone else is just going to make yourself look worse. And, never, ever blame the customer for what went wrong (even if you think it is 100% their fault). They may have gone against your recommendations and chose a product that was the wrong fit, but in the end you still went ahead and sold them that product.
2. Listen to their grievances
Everyone knows that listening is the key to building (or rebuilding) relationships. Yet, many salespeople have a hard time letting anyone else do the talking. Especially after something went wrong, you need to let the customer speak and tell you what their issues are. And if that requires getting a bit of an earful from them, so be it. For a salesperson, this can be a great opportunity for growth and building resilience. For your customer, yelling at you can be cathartic. Really try to put yourself in their shoes and see their side of the issue. Empathy will go a long way.
3. Ask questions
Before telling your customer what you want to do, ask them what they want. Find out what damage the issue has caused, and what could make it better for your customer. Ask targeted and relevant questions, and make sure not to waste their time while you are trying to get to the bottom of things. Your customer likely has his or her own idea about how you can right your wrong, so try to honor that if at all possible. If their proposed situation is not feasible, try to find a potential compromise.
4. Develop a solution
Take what you have heard from your customer and your own knowledge of their needs and your product to develop a solution to the issue moving forward. If you sold them a bad product or if deadlines have changed since the deal was made, try to rebuild trust by fixing any wrongdoings and hold up your end of the bargain. Maybe add an additional perk or upgrade as a part of your apology. Make sure that you give the customer a reasonable time-frame for remedying the situation, and under no circumstances miss this deadline. You may need to recruit additional team members, or spend extra time making calls to fix the situation, but if they’re a valuable customer then it’s necessary.
5. If the relationship has to end, let it
If all of the products your company sells just aren’t the right fit, don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Instead, graciously let the relationship end and try to make sure that this happens on the best possible terms. You don’t want to burn any bridges or have them posting scathing reviews on various review sites. Try sending them a handwritten card thanking them for the opportunity to have their business. In some cases, you may even want to consider getting them a refund. Most people are reasonable and will appreciate the effort.