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How to Make an Uncomfortable Call

Jul 9, 2014

mobilecall_ppcHere’s a tip that’s sure to take you out of your comfort zone: call up a former customer—one who moved on despite your quality work—and ask them what you did wrong.

The next step may be a bit harder: listen without becoming defensive or agitated. Don’t argue or tell them why they’re wrong. Instead, use words and phrases such as, “Right,” or “I understand,” to keep the conversation going. If you lost the business on price, you can still get value from the call by asking only about the quality of the services you provided.

To complete the call, earnestly thank them for their feedback and then write up how you plan to address the concerns you heard. Share this document with your staff and send it to the customer with a hand-written thank-you note. Although you should approach the call simply as a learning experience, your expressed gratitude and follow-through could begin to open the customer’s closed door!

But if a cold call to an ex-customer seems too daunting, try working with existing customers first. This won’t be a walk in the park, but it will be good practice for approaching the customers you’ve lost.

Facilitating a customer focus group is also a great way to determine if you’re achieving your business objectives. To do this, bring together six to eight of your best customers in an informal environment so that they can discuss and evaluate your company. For instance, what will they say about the way you answer your phones, price your products, or manage accounts? A week after the meeting, follow up by sending the participants a letter that addresses how you intend to tackle their concerns.

It’s always difficult to welcome critique, and the recommendations here certainly aren’t for the faint of heart. However, it is well worth it to get honest feedback from those your company supports…and addressing customers’ negative feedback now definitely beats losing their business down the road.

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