19 April 2013
Turning frowns upside down - Dealing with Customer Complaints
A customer has approached you with an issue and they are clearly upset with the situation, we've all been there. Whether it’s over a phone call, in person or even a Live Chat, this should been seen as an opportunity to turn the disgruntled customer into an avid fan.
The chance to communicate with your customer can be used to showcase your excellent customer service, leaving the client in no doubt that when an issues arises they will be dealt with in a professional and efficient manner.
Yes, people are 5 times more likely to share an unsatisfactory customer experience, but if you can leave them with a positive lasting impression, they’ll be more likely to return in the future. So what can you do to turn it around?
Firstly, you and your staff should always be armed. No not for battle, with something that you can offer complainants to make up for their inconvenience. Consider promotional vouchers for money off a next purchase, or perhaps a period using your service free of charge. Of course these should be offered in addition to resolving the matter at hand. The chance to communicate with your customer can be used to showcase your excellent customer service, leaving the client in no doubt that when an issues arises they will be dealt with in a professional and efficient manner.
Listen and Confirm
When engaging with a customer who may be frustrated and angry, start by asking them to explain the situation. Don’t interrupt, just listen and offer confirmation you are doing so with phrases such as ‘I see’ and ‘I understand’. This lets people air their grievances, get their point across and importantly begin to calm down. Then confirm the issue at hand, as there’s nothing worse than working on an incorrect resolution.
Empathise and Apologise
Once the issue has been confirmed, move along and offer an apology to the customer. There’s no need to assign blame to either party, simply empathise and show you understand how this has been an inconvenience. Try not to take the complaint personally; it’s not aimed at you directly, but the company itself. The customer is simply looking for an avenue to vent their frustration.
Reach a Resolution
You've reached a point were you understand the issue, so ask the customer what they would like to see in resolution. Don’t worry; customers are unlikely to make an unrealistic request. However if this occurs, don’t reply with a closed phrase such as ‘that’s not part of our policy’. Instead, try ‘ I'm sorry, but I don’t think that’s an option, how about…’ and provide several alternatives to their request.
Move quickly and take Ownership
Take ownership of the situation; don’t pass off responsibility onto another member of staff. If you can’t immediately answer their query, that’s ok. Explain the situation and give a time frame for when you will get back to them. Pass on your name and phone number, so the customer can reach you. This gives a sense of control, knowing they have a point of contact should they seek information in the mean time.
Follow up and Learn
A quick phone call soon after the issue has been resolved, is a fantastic tip for leaving the customer with a positive impression of your company. It’s unexpected, but can be the difference between retaining their future custom. Perhaps the most important tip of all is to learn from these experiences. What happened to cause the complaint and how can it be avoided in the future? Make notes, and pass them on to your colleagues. Remember, all is not lost when it comes to customer complaints as it presents the opportunity to show just how fantastic your customer service is. In fact customers who make a complaint and are satisfied with the response are 10% more likely to make a repeat purchase.
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