If you’re working with customers then it’s not a question of whether you will have to deal with customer complaints, but how you will deal with them.
Although you should treat each complaint individually, you should have a strategy in place for handling complaints to leave the client happy, but also protect your organisation and brand.
Before I talk about the 3 don’ts, let’s look at how you should handle a complaint.
No matter how good your process is or the quality of your products are, there will inevitably come a time when you have to deal with a customer complaint.
This could happen for many, many reasons.
The standards that people expect today from business has exponentially grown over the years and if you don’t keep up with those requirements, you may find yourself receiving more and more complaints.
Make sure you know how to handle complaints in the right way with our Complaint Handling Training.
Here is a step-by-step guide for dealing with a complaining customer.
Dealing With Customer Complaints
If you receive a complaint, take a moment’s time-out
Even if you are criticised or blamed for something, it’s never worthwhile being driven by an emotional response. You need to give yourself a moment or two to appreciate the reasons why this particular complaint has been brought to your attention.
Analyse the big picture first
Try to listen to the big picture, which means finding out not just the incidental details but the essence of the meaning behind the complaint.
Understand exactly what’s being said
It’s not easy but try not to be too defensive particularly if you don’t think you have made a mistake.
But try to put yourself into the shoes of the customer and see it from their perspective.
Try to take personal responsibility for the issue at hand
It may be not your fault, but you don’t want to make the customer feel but they are causing you an issue. You need to confirm back to them your understanding of the issue and make sure that is clear in the customer’s mind
When you’ve done this, you can now start to find a solution for the issue
It’s always polite and good business ethos to offer an apology even if you weren’t at fault. Sometimes it may well be that the apologies enough to placate an angry customer
DO NOT make excuses
Instead, explain briefly why this may have happened. The customer doesn’t want to hear excuses like poor delivery service from your suppliers or bad weather or Brexit or anything like that
Think about what kind of compensation might be due to this customer
Trying to remain calm even if the customer is confrontational
You are trying to turn this issue into something which can be solved and you getting irate is not going to help matters
Attempt to resolve this as quickly as possible
You want the customer to feel that they are getting your complete attention and speed of response is one of the areas that they will be looking for here
Deal with a complaint in the best way possible especially in the customer’s eyes
By putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, you will see first of all what they actually require even if this includes recompense, and also what you can do to turn the whole situation around
What you want to end up with is a customer who has the complaint dealt with and has been given the opportunity to still remain loyal to you. What is not possible is to always prevent complaints; you’re handling of them though, makes it possible to turn a negative situation into a more positive one more frequently.
Don’t Do These When Dealing With A Complaint
Handle a complaint well and it can build a stronger relationship with your customers.
Here are some tips on how not to deal with customer complaints:
Don’t Get Defensive
While on the phone with a client, remember that your mission is to do everything in your power to keep the client happy and as a loyal customer.
Although this is not always possible, that should be your main goal.
Therefore, it is not useful to get defensive and defend the product or service and your company. This will make the client feel like you are not seeing their view, and disregarding their opinion.
Don’t Pass On the Call
Perhaps you are really busy at the time when there is a customer request to speak to you, or simply don’t want to deal with it.
However, passing on the call to someone else can be a critical mistake.
If the issue has escalated so much that the customer is asking to speak to a manager, than you don’t want another employee without your training and expertise to try and settle with them.
Bite the bullet and take the call, doing your best to address the client’s concerns.
It is often much easier to quickly make something up to protect your product or organisation instead of telling the truth.
However, that fib can be very damaging should it come up to surface.
While you may not be honest about sensitive company information, take great care that what you reveal to the customer is the complete and honest truth.
Remember that a single situation can blow up to be a huge scandal if it is not handled right, putting not only your own job at risk, but the success of the entire business.
Clients are the bread and butter of every single business, so addressing their complaints properly is essential to keeping your company’s good reputation.
If you’re looking for some additional research and tips on this topic then please check out our guide on How To Handle Difficult Customers where I cover 8 specific steps that you need to follow to ensure a happy outcome!
Originally published: 14 May, 2020