No matter whether you work at a car dealership, advertising agency, or a remodeling business, you’ve probably had a customer cancel an appointment. What is your reaction? Resentment for wasting your time, a defensive email, or no response at all?

Before we talk about what you should do, let’s think about the customer. When a customer is making a buying decision, they must choose from you and your competitors. When a customer cancels, remember that you are the frontrunner because they intially chose to make an appointment with you. With that in mind, you should feel confident as to the possibility of rescheduling.

This leads us to the key to turning a negative into a positive in this situation. Your response to the customer and the cancellation!   How you react and more importantly respond to the client will determine the probability of a return visit and more importantly your reputation and the impression of your business name.

1. Leave negative emotion out. Think about the customer’s reason for cancelling, and remember that this is business and not personal. If you discover that they had a valid business reason for changing their mind, determine if it’s something that you can change for the better going forward. Use it as a learning experience, and that way the appointment isn’t “wasted.”

2. Respond. If you receive a cancellation via phone, make sure you ask them if there is a reason for the cancellation. Most customers won’t mind telling you. If the customer cancels with an e-mail or text, be sure to confirm that you have received the cancellation. All response e-mails must be written in a positive tone. How you respond to “a no sale” is just as and possibly more important than your follow-up response to a successful sale.

3. Keep the customer on your radar. Once you discover why the customer cancelled, determine if this customer is qualified for future contact. If the customer tells you that he is not ready to buy right now, think about opportunities down the road. You want them to call your company first! Be sure to follow-up if you have their e-mail. Don’t be too pushy. The goal is simply to keep your name in front of them. This approach, combined with the sincere well-wishes upon their cancellation, will leave a professional and respected reputation.

In this day and age where the pressure to make a sale or move on is high, and good customer service is becoming more rare, it really doesn’t take much to elevate your business above the rest. Be sure to include this classy business practice in serving your customers, and you will see your loyalty rate increase! Stay tuned for more next week.