5. Make Unhappy Customers Happy

An unhappy customer is a major emergency—a business emergency. People come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes. You’ll find some customers easy to please while you could move heaven and earth and still not satisfy others.

Every coach has the customer who forever has an “issue” with something about the way he runs his business and there is always the customer you have to consistently chase down for payment.

Let’s not forget the parent who feels that their child should be in a much stronger group or the angry team member who feels she should be playing number two instead of six.

Plus, we’re all human and make mistakes. Maybe you forgot about a lesson and left your customer hanging. Perhaps you remembered the lesson but neglected to book the court. Maybe you didn’t return a call when you said you would or failed to leave a racket for someone at the front desk. The list is endless. The best professionals learn from their mistakes and never make the same  mistake twice.

Customers want immediate resolutions so regardless of whether it’s your fault, the club’s fault, or nobody’s fault, an unhappy customer is an emergency and how you handle it will go a long way towards building your reputation as a professional who is known for superior customer service.

“The customer is always right”

We’ve all heard this phrase as the cardinal rule of customer service. Well, guess what: the customer is not always right but it doesn’t matter. They think they’re right and perception is reality. The customer is the customer, and it’s your job to satisfy them so that they will continue to do business with you.

Generally, customers get upset for two main reasons:

1. They feel they didn’t get what they paid for. Perhaps they didn’t enjoy their lesson with a particular coach, or their racket doesn’t feel as if it was strung at the requested tension.

Maybe they feel they’re too strong for the clinic they’ve been placed in or the new outfit they bought makes them look fat. It doesn’t matter. They feel cheated and are not happy.

2. They feel as if they’ve been treated poorly. Nothing gets a customer angrier than poor treatment. Maybe, in their mind, the pro didn’t pay them enough attention during their group lesson or didn’t return their phone call in a timely manner. Regardless, their feelings have been hurt and they’re angry.

Often, an angry customer is upset about something that has nothing to do with tennis. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse before they came to the club or one of their kids lost their iPhone. They’re upset and you’re the closest target.

Whether their complaint is legitimate or simply the culmination of a bad day, your job is to make them feel better. Research shows that 95 percent of dissatisfied customers will do business with a company again if their complaint is quickly resolved.

The next time you see an angry customer charging your way, stay calm. Take a deep breath and prepare for the onslaught. Remind yourself to keep your cool. Once your customer tells you they have a problem, do not have the conversation in a public area. Find a private place to sit down and let them vent.

As they’re speaking, look in their eyes, nod your head and occasionally say things like, “Yes” or “Okay” or “I see.” This lets them know that you’re truly listening to them.

“Failing to truly listen to others is just a bad habit, and it’s one most of us have to some degree. It’s all too easy to talk too much and listen too little. Luckily, habits can be changed.” Lee Cockerell

As they speak, don’t show any signs of impatience, multitask and, above all, do not interrupt. If possible, take notes.
You shouldn’t count on remembering everything that was said plus, note taking is another sign that you’re taking their complaint seriously.

Once they’ve finished, follow these four steps:

1. Acknowledge their complaint. Whether you agree or disagree with their issue, it’s important that the complaining customer knows you understand why they’re upset. Don’t disagree with them and above all, do not argue. It’s a battle you can’t win. You may be able to prove them wrong but that will only make them angrier, at which point they’ll likely take their business elsewhere.

2. Apologize and accept responsibility. Something has made them unhappy and for that you must apologize and assure them you’ll do your best to make sure it won’t happen again. Be sincere. People can tell when you’re merely going through the motions.

If you, or a member of your team, made a mistake, don’t try to hide
the truth or blame someone else. Own up to it. If you’re the boss, the
buck stops with you.

3. Fix it. You’ve listened and consoled your customer. That’s great but what they’re really interested in is what you’re going to do about it. They want a solution, and they want it quickly. Involve them in solving the problem and, as you work towards a solution.

  • Use phrases like: “I understand why you…” | “I think we should…”  “Would it work for you if…?”
  • Avoid words and phrases like:  “Can’t” | “But” | “You should have” | “The only thing we can do.”

Try to come up with a quick, easy solution. If you can’t, ask if you can work on the problem and get back to them in twenty-four hours.

In my experience, most angry customers calm down after being listened to and treated fairly. They’re more likely to accept a reasonable solution a day later than they are in the heat of the moment.

4. Go the extra mile. Your job is not done when you’ve fixed the problem. It’s been a hassle for them to have to come to you and you must now do something to make up for the inconvenience. There are countless ways to give a little extra service, and many of them will cost you little or nothing.

It could be a gift certificate to the Pro Shop, a complimentary lesson or a V.I. P. pass for court time. Little things such as this tell your customer you care about them and keep them coming back.

Don’t hold grudges: Often, a customer may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed coming to the club after they’ve had an issue—particularly if they behaved irrationally or inappropriately. Your job is to make them feel comfortable and welcome. The next time you see them, look them in the eye, smile, say hi, and act as if nothing happened.

And the final rule of exceptional customer service--say thank you! Say it at the end of every lesson and phone conversation. Type it at the end of every email. Always end a conversation with a customer by saying “thank you.”

Never forget that, without them, you’d be out of a job.

“Enjoy each day and be grateful to be in a position where you can serve your members and students with their tennis, fitness and health goals. You are the model they are looking at for a healthy and happy lifestyle.” Kirk Anderson