7 Steps for Effectively Handling Customer Complaints
This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.
Handling customer complaints is a drag. But there’s good news: more than half of the time, those customers will do business with you again if you work with them to solve the problem. In fact, if you respond quickly to clear up the issue, nearly all customers will come back to you. In the world of customer service, complaints are always going to arise—it’s how you deal with them that sets you apart from your competition and keeps you on the path to success.
Read on for a list of simple tips for resolving customer complaints with grace and savvy.
1. Be Cool
When confronted with a mistake, and a potentially worked-up customer, defensiveness is a normal human response. But when it comes to resolving customer complaints, putting up an argument is not going to win repeat business.
2. Listen Up
While the customer speaks his or her piece, make it known that you’re listening with responses like, “I hear what you’re saying,” “I see,” and “tell me more.” While you’re at it, try out some of these effective listening tips from Forbes:
Don’t interrupt: You might be tempted to pipe in while the customer is providing his or her side of the story. Don’t. Wait until they’re completely finished to ask any questions.
Pay attention: Maintain relaxed eye contact and don’t multi-task while you’re handling customer complaints. When a customer brings concerns to your attention, you owe it to them to provide your undivided attention.
Ask follow-up questions: After you’ve listened to the customer’s issue, the conversation ball is in your court. Now is the time to probe with respectful questions until you have all the information you need.
Sum up: Confirm with the customer that you have all the facts of the story straight before you try to implement a solution.
3. Say You’re Sorry
If you or your company made a mistake, admit it. Even if you sincerely believe your business did not make a mistake, apologize for the misunderstanding. A courteous and respectful attitude will help regain the customer’s trust, and hopefully his or her business. Even if you don’t agree with the customer, showing respect for how he or she feels about the situation can win brand points back.
4. Deliver a Solution
Don’t promise anything you can’t realistically deliver inside of your company’s guidelines. But do let the customer know you are willing to take responsibility for the issue, even if what happened was out of your hands.
5. Say Thank You
This is your chance to rebuild your reputation in the customer’s eyes. After you apologize and provide a fix, remind the customer that your business is dedicated to pleasing its customers. Thank him or her for the constructive feedback and opportunity to right the situation. And don’t forget to smile.
6. Be Real
Don’t script your responses. Your customers can tell, and they’d prefer a genuine conversation.
7. Measure Your Efforts
Every customer complaint reveals possibilities for improvement—don’t let these opportunities pass you by. If you’re not already doing so, now is the time to implement a system for measuring your customer satisfaction and/or loyalty levels.