Customer Satisfaction – Small Business Breakdown

Dear M & M:

Occasionally we get unhappy customers on the phone.  Do you have tips for our business on how to best diffuse the frustration and move forward?

– Tom

Dear Tom:  

Business professionals face all kinds of challenges, including at times managing unhappy clients or customers. Although dealing with a difficult caller can make your day less than stellar, it’s important to listen to the caller’s complaints. To deal effectively with a caller who is angry or upset, you must work to keep your own emotions in check. Maintaining your composure can help diffuse the caller’s frustration and move you both toward a solution to the problem.

Step 1: Remain silent if a caller seems frustrated or upset. Avoid taking what the caller says personally and don’t interrupt her while she is talking. Instead, allow her the opportunity to vent. When the caller gives you a chance to speak, offer positive comments that will keep her listening to what you have to say.

Step 2:  Listen carefully to the caller’s explanation of the problem and take notes. Apologize for any inconvenience the situation has caused. Remain objective and repeat the information he has given you. Paraphrasing the caller’s concerns helps to ensure you understand what he is saying. Convey interest when you speak to show the caller you are on his side.

Step 3: Strive to come across in a friendly, sincere and courteous manner. Imagine yourself in the caller’s shoes. Talk in a calm, low voice, telling the caller that you understand her concerns. Be empathetic and let the person know you want to help.

Step 4:  Inform the caller from the start that you will be asking him questions that will provide you with information you need to resolve the issue. Express your gratitude in advance for any information the caller can give you.

Step 5:  Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question is often posed as a statement that requires a response and encourages the caller to share what she knows about the situation. Although open-ended questions help build rapport with the caller, in some cases, you may have to ask questions that require a simple, one-word answer such as “yes” or “no.” Ask close-ended questions when you need to verify the facts.

Step 6:  Describe what actions you can take to resolve the situation and then follow through. If the caller isn’t satisfied with the first solution you offer, suggest more than one alternative. Allow the caller to share some control of the situation by asking what solution he thinks might work best.

Step 7:  Give the caller your name and contact information so she can contact you again if things don’t work out. Likewise, ask what is the best way for you to reestablish contact with the caller after the problem has been resolved? Explain that you intend to follow up to ensure the caller is satisfied with the outcome.

-M&M

Dear M & M:

There are many kinds of small businesses in the U.S. what is the breakdown of how many are home-based, franchise, sole proprietor, corporation and how many small businesses don’t have employees?

–Janice

Dear Janice: 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest figures in 2010; 52 percent of all businesses in the U.S. were home based businesses, 2 percent were franchise businesses, 73.2 percent were sole proprietors, 19.5 percent were corporations, 78.5 percent of small businesses do not have employees while 21.5 percent have employees. Over the past 10 years the number of small businesses that do not have employees has trended upward. In 2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S., and 18,500 firms had 500 employees or more. Small firms accounted for 64 percent of the new jobs created between 1993 and 2011 (or 11.8 million of the 18.5 million net new jobs). Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

-M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org .

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