When clients are unhappy

This is a customer relationship story that should prompt some thoughts about your own
clients and those odd times when they think you might have done them wrong.

I had a rather nasty experience this month with a high-pressure car dealership. The manufacturer had done a superb branding job on a greatlittle car that would make us feel young and carefree and last a long long time.

But by the time I left the dealership I felt battered and abused and convinced that the car I had bought would fall to pieces and sure that I had somehow been duped.

This was all thanks to a salesperson who reminded me a lot of Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo – and not in a good way – and a finance manager who made my wife think of Gitmo. There is more – but I will spare you.

I have since been contacted by three different survey takers from the dealer and from the manufacturer, asking me to rate my experience. Believe me I told them. But nothing has been done – no attempt to calm me or to make amends. Though I did get an automated phone call wishing me a happy birthday. A recorded greeting – please!

So they have the part right about finding out what their customers think – though three separate surveys seems like overkill. But what are they doing with the information?

They were smart enough to ask me how many people I had told of my bad experience. The response box was not big enough to say that I had already Twittered about it to goodness only knows how many people.

We’ve all had a client or two who got the wrong end of the stick. More and more their rants are being passed on – and at the speed and breadth of social networks.

So what should we do when a client is unhappy? I suggest tackling it head on with that client – and quickly. You should have a point of view ready so you don’t get caught flat-footed. You don’t have much time to fool around any more and the damage a disgruntled client can do can spread far wide and fast.