Soothe your new customer when he wails. Really.

I'm living and breathing baby with our 5-week old. My wife has been reading tons of baby books, and I'm just trying to keep up with a few. She bookmarked a little ditty for me in our latest Parenting magazine the other day and I finally read it (thank goodness she does this).

It's titled The Spoiled Baby Myth. The main theme is this: Soothe your new baby when she wails. Don't ignore her thinking she'll self-soothe and be okay.

What does this have to do with marketing and PR and running a business? No, I'm not sleep deprived or diaper crazy. There is a point.

All of you at one or another have landed a new customer who wailed every step of the way – from the closing the sale to implementation to renewal. Nothing you do appeases them and you question why their organization signed up in the first place. The global financial meltdowns will drive even more customers to wailing as well, wanting a lot more for less.

But you're smart business people and you acknowledge their complaints and do everything you can to transform them into happy campers, however futile it sometimes feels. Smaller, nimble firms are usually more adept at responding to customers who wail. Larger companies are not and many buy into the myth that loyal (non-wailing) customers are the most valuable (mistake number two).

Look at what happens when large companies screw up with legitimately wailing customers.

Not to say that there are illegitimate wailing customers (children, maybe – don't look at me), because every customer should be treated with respect and be acknowledged and you should always work it out for them – whatever it takes. Don't ignore them and hope they'll go away, because they will and take their business elsewhere.

Mark wrote earlier this year on Customer Service and Recessions that:

1. When something goes wrong, acknowledge it. If it is a result of a mistake you made, admit it.

2. Apologize.

3. Explain what happened, how you are going to fix it, and if applicable how you will contact the customer when it is fixed.

4. Leave the customer feeling good.

Yes, number 4 is hard to do when you're dealing with wailing customers. But from my experiences there's always someone in your organization who can appease, no matter how far up and/or across you have to go.

And as we've said in another post about customer service, handling customer's questions or concerns in a timely and friendly manner is vital to the long-term success of your company.

They aren't a nuisance; they're your business – no matter how much they wail. And I've got super soft blankies for all of them.

Post by Kevin Grossman

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