A couple of weeks ago I explained why saying "yes" all of the time can be a bad thing for you and a bad thing for your business in How To Say No! - Part One.
When you say "yes" to something you are committed to seeing it through even though you may have rushed into it and not considered all of your options.
This week we want to help you to learn how to say no in a positive way so that both you and your customer walk away satisfied.
Evaluate Your Options
Let's replay last weeks scenario:
Let's say that a potential customer comes to you and says, "I'm really interested in buying X product/service from you but I need it doing faster/cheaper (take your pick)".
At this point, the potential customer has you strapped to the tracks as a speeding train approaches. You are faced with two options;
Or you can provide them with a completely different offer!
Instead of meeting the customers demands why not offer them something different, a compromise of sorts. For example, you could tell them that you cannot complete the work any faster but that you'd be happy to provide them with a 10% introductory discount.
Alternatively, you could apologise that you are unable to do it faster or cheaper but explain to them that they are receiving a quality service (present testimonials, case studies and examples of previous work) to enforce your case and remember to always be polite, happy and helpful.
In doing so you are providing the customer with mutually beneficial options. Options that will provide them with the solution that they want in a way that you can reasonably achieve and afford.
One of the most important things to remember regardless of whether the customer does or does not choose to buy your product/service is to always remain polite, happy and helpful. If you respond to emails and telephone calls quickly, enthusiastically and you are willing to help; even if the customer doesn't choose to buy from you straight away there's a strong chance that they'll come back to you in the future and refer you to others.
I've had several customers who came to me for an initial service quote and didn't choose to use my service but then after going somewhere else and receiving a bad service, or one that wasn't quite what they were looking for they came back to me usually saying, "I remember you because you were so helpful/nice/polite etc".
You have to ensure that all of your customer encounters, whether virtual or face to face, are positive because that's what will keep customers coming back to you time and time again.
Managing Customer Expectations
In following the above advice you have already begun to manage your customers expectations by laying down your working terms. If they accept these terms then they too are bound by understanding. They understand what it is that you are providing, the cost to provide and the time etc to do so.
To continue managing your customers expectations you need to remember the two big 'C's' of business:
CUSTOMER + COMMUNICATION
If you keep your customers updated throughout the whole process then you'll have a happy, reassured and worry free customer.
In Sales? This means keeping them updated when an order has been placed, payment processed, order shipped and then a quick follow up to check that everything is ok once it's arrived.
In Service? This usually includes daily, weekly or monthly updates which can be taken in the form of an email, phone call, video call or a meeting to discuss what's been done so far, if things are still on schedule and what needs to be done next.
The most important thing to remember is to not withhold things from your customer. If you find out early on that something is going to delay your customers work, tell them about it! Explain to them what the issues are and try to work out the best solution for both parties. Things will only get worse if you continually promise your customers a delivery date that you can't possibly meet.
Rectifying A Bad Customer Relationship
Bad customer relationships can be created in many different ways;
There are many other ways that bad customer relationships or feelings can be created but all that you have to remember is that no matter what the customer says or does you are not to blame and you should not take it personally.
To help rectify a bad relationship all you have to do is remain polite, considerate, engaged and helpful. An unhappy customer really appreciates it when you listen to their problems, suggest solutions or promise to look into the issue further and always keep them updated with what's happening and how things are progressing.
What You've Achieved
Since I was 14 years old and I first started working part-time I started to learn about managing customer expectations and creating positive customer relationships.
If you remember the above advice when faced with an unhappy customer, a potential customer and your existing customers then you'll be on your way to creating positive thinking customers who will be happy to recommend your business to others.