I am a firm believer in the model of a service-based business. What I mean by this, is that at my core, I believe that every aspect of one's business is better equipped to succeed when it is built and operated from the perspective of service to others. When it comes to acknowledging the skills and value of your employees and partners, or the obvious customer service, it is important to reflect an attitude of compassion, caring, and willingness to serve.
We all know that the sale is the spine of your business. Without it, there's virtually no revenue and no growth. But having a repeat customer is also just as important. That means the customer will want to come back and buy from you again. You must first deliver above expectations and maintain that quality of customer service. My approach is a method I call "Killing with Kindness". It sounds a little counter intuitive, but when you put it into practice, you'll understand why it is so powerful.
Killing with kindness refers to you ability to put out fires, overcome objections, and beat expectations before they ever become issues. To do this, you have to be able to connect on a personal level and be willing to go above and beyond to treat your customer like they are damn near royalty. If you treat every customer like they are the most important customer, or the only customer, you create an atmosphere of dedicated value. The customer no longer feels like a burden when they ask a question or make a complain, instead they feel like they are helping to make a difference in their experience and that of others. They will even tell their friends and family to try you out as well. You have to be so focused and over-the-top on customer service that the customer can't help but smile and feel like a long-time friend, even after a disagreement.
Now, I also want to make a distinction here. Being kind and focused on doing everything possible for the customer, does not mean that you are in the wrong in some cases of customer complaints. There is such a thing as "tough love" and there will be situations where you must stand your ground. But again, doing it from the perspective of compassion will make a world of a difference. It's hard to be angry at someone who is happy and smiling and genuinely cares about you. Be that person. Be that business. There will be people who will see this as weakness and will try step all over you. In my experience, when handling these kinds of people, there are two ways to handle the situation. The first, you have the right to refuse any business. In some cases there are customers or clients that you know will be a problem for the sake of being a problem. It is not worth the time, energy and resources of you and your team to be constantly under attack by this type of poison. You can say "no". The other way to deal with this type of person is to listen and act quickly. Listen to the complaint. Don't just hear what they are telling you, but truly understand the root of why they are acting towards you. Is it really about your product/service or is it about the experience? Is something going on that affected their experience? There are things that we can't control, but we can empathize. Once you understand the root of the matter, ACT! Act quickly. When your customer/client sees that you are making the effort to understand them, treat them with dignity and then do something about it (even if you don't get the desired results) they will see that in your eyes, they matter. That is all that anyone ever wants. People want to feel like a person, not a number. People want to feel dignity, and they deserve it. We all do.
Don't be afraid to spend some extra time on the "tough customer". In the end, they will be some of your strongest supporters. Even if they aren't, others will notice and think "if a person like that can be treated so well, imagine how I will get treated".