"Your service protocol empowers your employees to become connectors," she adds. "Often, they might think offering a discount or a coupon is the right way to handle a situation, but they may be worried that you, their leader, won't approve. With the protocol, they know exactly what they can immediately offer to the client. You'll find that effectively resolving problems with clients actually makes them more loyal to you because they see that you care about their business."
Ask for feedback. Obviously, you don't have to sit around, anxiously wondering when a problem is going to arise. There is a way for you to avoid some (unfortunately, not all!) client conflicts. You can do it by ensuring that customers aren't suppressing problems. And you do that by constantly asking for feedback. (It's amazing how rarely businesspeople do this-they're usually just keeping their fingers crossed that all is well-but a sincere inquiry about a client's satisfaction is a true pathway to making a connection.)
"Don't be afraid to engage your clients," says Kuzmeski. "Ask them what you can do better, how you can improve. Supply them with feedback surveys so that they can anonymously share their thoughts, ensuring that they are as honest as possible. And when a problem has been solved, ask them if you handled it to their satisfaction and find out if there is anything they would like for you to have done differently. Asking for feedback is a great way for you to rectify any possible or growing problems before they become so great that they sour a client relationship."
"Clients who feel a connection with you are loyal and will stay with you-sometimes forever. Dissatisfied clients not only go elsewhere, but they also tell others of their dissatisfaction," says Kuzmeski. "What's even worse is that those dissatisfied clients will each tell an average of five other people about their displeasure with you. That means for every complaint, you could have up to 60 people who are walking around with a negative image of you and your company-and are talking about it!
"By actively and sincerely playing a part in resolving conflicts with your clients, you're showing them that you are willing to do what it takes to make them happy," she concludes. "You are not just fixing a problem for them. You are also turning those dissatisfied clients into delighted ones who may even become evangelists for your company! And we all know there is no marketing force more powerful than a customer who shares her delight with others."