How to handle complaints effectively?
At some point, everyone in business has to deal with an upset customer. The challenge is to handle the situation in a way that leaves the customer thinking you operate a great company. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a business owner’s ability to effectively deal with customer complaints provides a great opportunity to turn dissatisfied customers into active promoters of the business. There are different ways to handle complaints effectively:
- Thank them for their complaint. Give positive recognition by saying, right off the bat, “Thank you for reaching out.”Show appreciation for the complaining customer’s time, effort, communication, feedback, and suggestions. Always keep in mind that the customer didn’t have to come to you at all. He could have simply taken his business to your competitor. When a customer gives you the opportunity to recover their service, be grateful.
- Don’t be defensive.
- Listen carefully to what the customer has to say, and let them finish. Don’t get defensive. The customer is not attacking you personally; he or she has a problem and is upset. Repeat back what you are hearing to show that you have listened.
- Ask questions in a caring and concerned manner. The more information you can get from the customer, the better you will understand his or her perspective. I’ve learned it’s easier to ask questions than to jump to conclusions.
- Put yourself in their shoes. As a business owner, your goal is to solve the problem, not argue. The customer needs to feel like you’re on his or her side and that you empathize with the situation.
- Apologize without blaming. When a customer senses that you are sincerely sorry, it usually diffuses the situation. Don’t blame another person or department. Just say, “I’m sorry about that.”
- Solve the problem, or find someone who can solve it quickly.
Research indicates that customers prefer the person they are speaking with to instantly solve their problem. When complaints are moved up the chain of command, they become more expensive to handle and only add to the customer’s frustration.
- Explain the company’s desire to improve. When you understand what the customer values, show them things your company does that helps you perform well in that area.
- Educate your customer. Apart of hearing the customer out is answering any questions they ask about their specific situation. Provide additional, useful information. If they ask a question that you can’t answer or don’t know the answer to, tell them you’ll find out the answer and get back to them. And then actually follow through. Contact the customer with the answers they requested.
- Action speaks louder than words. After relieving customer through words, one should act as promised. False words without action will not help for long.