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Marketing 101 - Keep Your Customers Happy


Marketing 101 - Keep Your Customers Happy

By Elizabeth Slater

What do you do when someone has a problem with your company, whether it is a product that isn’t right or doesn’t work, how they were treated or any other issue that may frustrate him or her?

The first thing is not do think of them as “difficult” customers. When you do, you have already made it their fault. Be open-minded and listen to them.  Try to see their side. 

Remember that the person who has the problem is not mad at you. They could be angry, frustrated or disheartened and you may be bearing the brunt of that, but it’s not personal. 

Try to get to the root of the problem.  You are there to help and you can’t help if you don’t know what the problem is. Listening is what customers need from you, at least until they know that you have grasped what they are trying to tell you. If you work for a larger company they may have already had to go through an automated system, which can be very frustrating.  

In Person or on the Phone

1. You need to listen to your customer without interrupting until they have explained in full the problem.  

2. Repeat to the customer what the problem is. as you understand it, to make sure that you have it right.

3. Even if you can solve the problem within the first minute of the customer’s explanation, don’t.  People need time to get things off their chest and it’s our job, as customer service people to let them. 

4. Let the person know that you are taking notes.  You might want to read the information back to them, explaining that you want to make sure you got it right.

If you are on the phone, let the person know that you are taking notes, that way s/he will feel that their problem is important to you.


1. Read the entire email twice before your start formulating or writing your reply. Make sure you know all the facts. And don’t read attitude into their words.

2. Nine times out of ten it’s better to pick up the phone and call the person with the problem, rather than send your response through email s/he may interpret your words incorrectly.

3. If you are responding through email, read the email through at least three times before your send it. If possible, have someone else read it. 

What you should say

“I’m sorry” is always a good start, even if it’s not your fault. 

“I can understand why you are upset.”

“Thank you for telling us about this.”

“Let me take care of that for you.”

“I will get my manager.”

“I will check into this and get back to you.”   

Give the customer a specific date that you will do this and ask they what is the best time.

Start with “Yes”.  “Yes, I can see why that would frustrate you” Yes, I feel the same way, when this happens to me.”

What you shouldn’t say

“Calm down” – Telling someone who is already frustrated to “Calm down” is only going to make him/her more irritable than s/he was when s/he first started speaking to you.  If you want to calm somebody down, tell him/her that you understand the problem and you will do everything you can to take care of it.

“No problem” – I realize that “No Problem” is a ubiquitous way of saying “You’re Welcome” or  “I am happy to take care of you.”  However when a customer has a problem and you say to them, “No Problem” it may seem that you are not taking their problem seriously and you don’t really care about their frustrations. While this could be far from the truth, it is still what the customer may think.


After the call is finished or you have let the customer know that you will find out what happened and call them back by a certain date (give them the date) talk about it to a co-worked or supervisor.  

Think about how you could have handled the call differently. This also helps you get rid of negative thoughts or emotions that may be left over from the interaction. We are only human and carry the frustrations from these types of interactions with us. 

Consider if there are any systems that need to be changed so this type of mistake doesn’t happen again. Just because we have always done something a particular way, doesn’t mean that it’s the best way.

Keeping your customers happy is the best thing you can do to ensure a successful and profitable business.

A tip of the class from me to you.

Elizabeth Slater: In Short Direct Marketing 707.953.1289