Customer complaints are inevitable fact of business life for every company in every industry. A huge part of offering great customer service is how you respond to those complaints. Even if a customer is unfair and difficult it’s up to you to stay calm and find a solution that works for the customer and your business. Here are five steps that will allow you to deal with customer complaints in a more effective and efficient manner.
Step 1: Listen
When a customer comes to you with a complaint, you need to listen carefully to what they have to say. Misunderstanding the issue or assuming that you already know the problem will only make them angrier about the situation. What for them to have their say; for many customers this is a cathartic part of the process so letting it happen will make the whole problem easier to resolve.
Step 2: Empathise
When a customer is making allegations and even saying things that are unfair, there can be a desire to come back with your side of the story. But it’s important that you don’t go on the defensive – especially not while the customer’s emotions are high on the subject; it will only lead to a heated argument. Let them say what they need to say and try to put yourself in their position. How would you feel if the same thing happened to you?
The customer service cliché is that the ‘customer is always right’. Remember at all times that this is a business matter and that the customer is not attacking you personally; they just have a problem that they want to be resolved.
Step 3: Apologise
Before you take any steps to resolve the problem you should take the time to apologise sincerely for the problem and the inconvenience it has caused. Apologising can actually have a calming effect on the situation. Don’t accept responsibility or blame anyone for the situation – simply apologise on behalf of your company.
Step 4: Find a solution
Finding the right solution can depend entirely on the situation, but in the majority of cases it is helpful to ask what it would take for the customer to feel that the situation was resolved in an acceptable way. It’s best if you can find a solution for them during the call so that it can all be sorted without them having to wait around.
Step 5: Learn
It’s vital that you and your company should learn from customer complaints. While a small proportion of complaints may come from unfair clients, the vast majority will arise out of a genuine problem with the product or service that could have been avoided. Make sure there is a system in place where customer complaints can be passed on to someone in a position to make sure it doesn’t happen again.