Anyone working in a customer-facing role is bound to encounter a negative customer experience at some point in their career. It is important to remember that these experiences are necessary in order to better ourselves, the company, and the sales process as a whole.
All customers are valuable, and it is necessary that a retail employee does not walk away from a negative customer experience without trying to respond to the negative experience and resolve the situation.
In this article, we will explore 5 proven ways to recover from a negative customer experience and ensure that a negative customer experience is not in vain.
Step 1: Ask the customer for feedback
After a negative customer experience, the first step to take is to ask the customer for feedback.
Make sure to make this process short. If you’ve received a negative comment on social media, apologize and ask for specifics so that you can better your retail experience.
Having a list of prepared questions for the customer following a negative interaction will come in useful. Alternatively, the company may wish to have a survey prepared for customers following a buying experience with both specific questions and the opportunity for general feedback.
The questions could include:
- What expectations were not met in this experience?
- What could the retail employee have done differently to improve the experience?
- Do you think we effectively understood your goals?
The questions you may wish to ask the customer will differ depending on the product that you offer, but it is crucial that an apology and resolution are offered to the customer where applicable.
The importance of listening to the customer must not be underestimated; The customer has the key to improving your sales process and therefore gaining more sales in the future.
Step 2: Evaluate the retail worker
Each negative experience will be unique, and the specific case-by-case reason(s) for the negative exchange must be identified in order to move forward. In some cases, it may be a wider company issue that caused the negative interaction, but it may be a retail worker-specific issue.
The retail worker should look to directly assess what they think were the contributing factors to the negative experience. Everyone has bad days and you shouldn’t go too hard on yourself.
Step 3: Evaluate the Engagement Model
The Engagement Model of a company is important as it explains how a company initially engages with its customers. As mentioned in step 2, it may be that the retail worker is highly skilled, but their skills are not those required for the specific situation at hand; there is a conflict between the sales techniques applied to the situation and what the customer requires at this point in time.
If sending inappropriately skilled retail workers is a recurring mistake within the company, it may be that there is an underlying issue with the company's engagement model.
It is crucial that everyone involved takes a wider look at the engagement model and business operations to ensure the correct sales skills are being deployed at each stage of the buying process.
Step 4: Look at the Products/Services Within Company’s Offering
Further to assessing areas for additional training, management should stop to assess whether the products and services that the company is offering are actually in line with what the customer expects.
It may be that the negative customer experience is not due to a retail worker issue, but actually due to a miscommunication in marketing.
In this step, it is important that management ask themselves difficult questions such as:
- What is our value proposition for our products?
- Are we using the right language to market our products?
- Have we researched our target audience and do we understand their needs?
These questions are likely to be challenging to answer and resolve, but they are the fundamental ones to ask to ensure real resolution is to be made following a negative customer experience.
Step 5: Ongoing Support and Future Development
It is essential that the company has adequate ongoing support in place to support the customer once the sale is complete. The customer experience does not end as soon as a sale has been made, and believing such would be a huge error.
Understanding that the customer experience extends beyond the sale will ensure any future negative experiences can be avoided. As part of the support process, it is important to follow up with the customer where possible. Think about how you can ensure a customer gets the most out of a product so that they become loyal and repeat customers! Are you offering enough post-purchase support and follow-up like product education or customer appreciation days?
Part of this support process may involve informing the customer of any changes that have been made since their negative experience. Customers like to feel heard and listened to, and if a company can show they have not only listened to the customer but made the appropriate changes to rectify what went wrong, a customer may be more likely to return.
Steps to avoid negative experiences occurring should be in place before the sales process even starts, and go far beyond the sale being completed. It is important to have a post-purchase review process in place to assess any negative experience as soon as it has happened so that a retail worker can best learn from the experience.
To rectify any negative experience, it is fundamental that the issue is assessed from a retail worker's perspective, but also from a wider company perspective from upper management.
Vanja Maganjić is an experienced writer with a unique passion for creating content that helps brands connect with their customers. She believes in brands that stand up to the man and thinks that storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human. Her long-term goal is to become the cool auntie that gives out family-sized Kit Kats on Halloween.
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