Dealing with telephone or face to face customer complaints effectively can be challenging. However, for most UK businesses, handling complaints is the key to cultivating long term revenue and a solid brand reputation.
Before we start, it’s important to keep in mind, never think of a customer as a single transaction.
What does this mean? Failing to handle your customers complaint means you will lose business possibly for the next 5 years or even indefinately. Furthermore people can’t wait to tell their friends on social media.
Handling your customers complaints may cost you money in the short term, however, keep them satisfied and you will gain long term revenue.
Let’s explore 10 best ways to help you resolve a customer complaint in a confident and professional manner.
Tip #1 – Respond to customers immediately
Timing is everything when responding to complaints.
Why? It reflects to your customer you value their feedback and are willing to listening to their challenge or poor experience.
Never leave a customer waiting for a resolution. Aim to respond to their face to face comments, letter, email or social media response as soon as possible to avoid the issue from escalating.
Even if you think the customer complaint is outlandish, make a point of giving credence to the customer’s concern. This builds empathy and rapport.
Tip #2 – Be prepared to offer an apology
As a business or company, accepting you are in the wrong allows for resolution.
It’s difficult for a customer to escalate into anger when the customer call operative accepts that they have had a challenging experience.
What if you haven’t done anything wrong?
If you do not want to apologise for the issue raised, say sorry for the way that customer has been made to feel. Again, empathy is always key.
Aggression is constantly met with aggression so empathising with your customer’s feeling can go along way when resolving complaints.
Tip #3 – Establish the facts
Stay calm without sounding robot-like.
When seeking how to handle customer complaints effectively, this skill is underrated. Composure allows you to be professional when communicating with your customers, it allows you to be empathetic whilst following your companies’ complaints procedure.
If your customer continues on a rant, explain to them in a professional manner you will make some enquiries to investigate what has happened and that you will call them back.
Establishing key facts allows you to provide an accurate response.
Tip #4 – Be open-minded
Great customer service staff have highly effective listening skills.
Be prepared to listen to your customers complaints, even if your initial response is dismissive. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.
The customer does not want an unpleasant experience any more than you, so they must feel like they have a point.
Related article – Discover what customer service is
Tip #5 – A win-win outcome is the goal
There must a clear goal when dealing with complaining customers.
If you stay positive throughout, avoiding negative or dismissive comments, then the result will likely be positive too.
Be optimistic with the customer that you can find a solution to the issues they raise with you.
Tip #6 – Make it easy to complain
There is usually a link between the number of complaints and how hard it is to contact a company.
Oddly, it is likely the opposite of what you think. Businesses who are open and make it clear where to complain often experience fewer overall aggressive customers.
It is the company that hides from its customers that have something to hide from! In sort, make it clear where you customers can send their feedback or complaints.
Tip #7 – Identify the type of customer
You will be met with different people who possess a variety of different communication styles whether its aggressive, expressive, a passive or a constructive complainer.
Want to improve your communication skills? Read our top tips for Good Communication in the Workplace.
Tip #8 – Keep your customer informed
If the complaint cannot be dealt with directly, with a single phone call, then regular communication becomes key.
Tell the customer when you will get back to them and stick to your promise.
Keep in contact with the customer until you find a solution.
Tip #9 – Take ownership
Whether you are dealing with telephone or face to face customer complaints, the best employees see the customers issue as a problem they are responsible for solving.
They own it!
There is no overriding desire to defer responsibility or to point at someone else.
Tip #10 – The three magic outcomes
When a customer complains, they want three things;
- People want to feel heard
- People want courtesy and respect
- Most of all, people want a reasonable solution.
If the customer leaves the call with all three things in hand, as a business you are on your way to creating a solid brand identity with an increase in returning customers.
Quick summary of how to handle customer complaints effectively.
Don’t leave your customers hanging, respond immediately.
Keep in mind your customer feelings and empthaise where possible.
Establish the facts to help responding more accurately.
Keep an open mind from the start.
Aim for a win-win outcome.
Make is simple for customers to express their views.
Remember, not all customers communicate the same.
Treat your customers with respect and aim for a reasonable outcome.