Unhappy customer? Let them decide what to pay

Being in charge at Happy means I get to deal with anybody who we have upset and who my colleagues haven’t managed to make happy. This doesn’t happen often and its never good to speak to a customer who we have let down but I do actually enjoy the task. Based on being open, admitting anything we got wrong and finding out what they need, there is nearly always a way to meet people’s needs.

Last week I called a client for whom the training had been great but we had messed up on collecting payment, causing her hassle and worry. She asked, given what had happened, why I expected her to pay anything for the course. I understood her view and we do have a policy of doing what is needed to make our customers happy. So I decided to leave it to her:

“We guarantee a full money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied”, I wrote. “So its up to you. Please pay whatever you think is appropriate, from nothing upwards.”

A few days later a cheque arrived, with a note saying she had decided to pay 76% of the fee. I have no idea how she arrived at that %, but it seemed more than fair. Once again I was reminded that people are reasonable and rarely take advantage if you are fair and open with them.

Do try it: If you have an unhappy customer, leave it to them – ask them what they want to pay.

1 response to “Unhappy customer? Let them decide what to pay”

  1. Good strategy Henry. I like it.

    If it’s clear what your ‘value’ is to the customer and there’s trust between the two parties, the vast majority of customers will be fair and reasonable.
    Depending on the product or service, it’s even possible to ask a customer what they want to pay before they buy it. Radical, but that can work too.


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