The following article is a transcript from a Thrive15.com training, one of the top business schools in Florida, with Clay Clark (Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA) and Dr. Robert Zoellner (Venture Capitalist & Entrepreneur) talking about why it's important that the bucks stops with you and you take responsibility for the customer service issues in your business.
Daniel Mckenna: What's up guys. My name is Daniel Mckenna. I am the executive producer here at Thrive15. Today we are in for a treat. We have Clay Clark with Dr. Robert Zoellner. This guy owns a horse stable. He owns and optometry clinic. He owns an auto auction. He owns a sleep center. This guy knows a little bit about quality control. Today we're going to be teaching on quality control and learning from upset customers.
Clay Clark: Dr. Z. How are you my friend?
Dr. Zoellner: I'm fine, Clay. How are you doing? Good to see you.
Clay Clark: I'm doing well, and I'm excited to be joined by this Office Depot brand highlighter. They're not a paid sponsor, but I just want to mention I feel really good about this highlighter.
We're talking today specifically about something I don't think a lot of people like to talk about, because as a small business owner we take so much pride in our business that we hate to even acknowledge that we've had an upset customer.
We're talking today about specifically how to learn from upset customers. I know that you've never had an upset customer. I know the people watching have never had an upset customer, but for other people we're going to be talking about this. Real quick, just so the people get a little bit of idea as to your street cred, and why you know this subject so well. How many different businesses do you actively operate right now?
Dr. Zoellner: Five that I started from ground zero. The oldest one that I've had is my optometry business. I have two offices here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since 1991 I've been in business with those. Since then I've added a diagnostic sleep center. A durable medical equipment company. An auto auction of which we are sitting in the sales bar currently. Also, a successful thorough bead breading and racing range.
Clay Clark: Just so people kind of get an idea for your early years a little bit, you started from scratch. We're talking about you grew up in a family where nobody was wealthy. You and your wife started this together, and you've grown it.
Dr. Zoellner: Absolutely. There was seven kids. I started working when I was thirteen, because I kind of had to. It's a great story. That's why I love this country so much. The opportunity that's given us. Get out there and work hard. You show a little bit of cleverness you can make a lot of things happen.
Clay Clark: Have you, in the history of your company, as you're growing, if you think back in the day when you started you started your first business, the optometry clinic, have you ever irritated even one customer?
Dr. Zoellner: Oh yes. All the time. I think the true measure of a business is how you deal with that situation. In other words, whatever business you're in, if things go great that day... The bread's made perfect. The pizza's on time. Everything goes great, and everybody's happy. At the end of the day you're like, "What a wonderful day." We had record sales. Everybody was happy. Lock up the door. That's not the measure of the business.
The measure of the business is when something goes wrong and how they handle it. When things are going great, that's easy.
Clay Clark: okay.
Dr. Zoellner: when things aren't going great, that's when you got to step up and really manage.
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Clay Clark: I'm going to let you talk specifically to a thriver in our audience amongst us here. Okay? I won't use their name, but this is somebody I just talked to on the phone this week.
Dr. Zoellner: Okay.
Clay Clark: She says, "I own two shops."
Dr. Zoellner: All right.
Clay Clark: "As I'm growing I'm having a real hard time, because I'm getting some complaints." I said, "Well, what do you mean?" She says, "Well, I'm getting probably two people a week." They do hundreds of transactions. "But I'm not there, and I feel like no one can ever do it as good as I can. I'm getting two complaints a week." She's getting emotional. She's starting to get emotional about these complaints. I said, "We're going to record something for you." I just gave her a little tip. "Hey, you can learn from upset customers. Ask them what happened, and how you can make it better, and let's fix the system.
What would you say to somebody who's struggling right now. They've grown the business where they use to see every customer individually. Now, in this ladies case, they have two locations. She's dealing with some complaints. How would you tell her to emotionally handle that?
Dr. Zoellner: Be happy. It's the patient that's upset that you don't know about is the one to cost you potential business and potential growth from your business. When someone takes their valuable time and let's you know that they're not happy with something that happened at your business, embrace it. Be happy about it. I mean, don't be happy it happened, but embrace that person. Say, "Listen, I want to thank you for taking your time to call me or to contact me and let me know that something upset you with the transaction or the business.
Number two, you have to then try to take your emotion out of it. Try not to get emotional about it. Try not to be upset that something didn't go right. That's for another day. Let's focus on this individual. Be honest and open with them. Own the problem. I think that's one of the things that happens a lot of times. They don't own the problem.
Clay Clark: Own the problem.
Dr. Zoellner: You've got to own the problem. The buck stops at you. If you're the owner, the buck stops with you, and you have to own it. You have to take responsibility for what one of your employees did. You have to look at that person in the eyes or over the phone, and you have to honestly say, "I am so sorry. I did not intend for that to happen, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart." Get their raw emotion out of it, too. Own it, apologize for it, and then work on the healing and what you can do to fix the problem.