Unhappy Customer? Let Them Decide What to Pay

In: BlogDate: May 27, 2011By: Henry Stewart

Being CEO of 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 it’s 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.

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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 have a full money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied,” I wrote. “So it’s 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.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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Want to learn more?

Looking for customer service training? Happy has a Creating Customer Delight training course that is designed to enhance your ability to understand what makes excellent customer service and effectively resolve difficult situations with unhappy customers. It is available both as a private course just for your organisation, and a public course hosted at Happy’s training centre in Aldgate.