No matter what kind of business you have, a customer complaint is something that is sure to happen. While you will go beyond the call of duty to provide the best customer service possible, you may still end up with some negative feedback.
Negative feedback can be discouraging and it often peeves business owners. However, it does not have to be this way. With the right mindset, knowledge, and skill, such events could be beneficial for the customer and your business.
Below are 10 tips on how to properly handle customer complaints.
1. Evaluate Complaints
Sometimes, the complaint is valid. However, there are also times when the complaint borderlines being ridiculous. It's best if you hear out the complaint first before taking any action. What you want is to get to the bottom of the complaint.
- Is it all about the product or service?
- Is it because of the price?
- Or, perhaps it’s the delivery that the customer is having problems with?
Sometimes, customers appear to be frustrated but all they need is guidance to help them see that the solution to their problem is right in front of them. No matter what kind of complaint you are facing, your job is to calmly help the customer arrive at the best solution.
2. Plan Ahead
It's best if you plan ahead on how you will tackle customer complaints. Keep in mind that the medium is a critical factor. Are you offering customer support via social media, online review sites, instant messenger, or e-mail?
Here's the thing:
Emails and voicemails allow more flexibility in terms of handling the situation. On the other hand, a phone call or instant message won’t give you a lot of time to evaluate and come up with the best solution. Hence, plan accordingly.
3. Don't Forget Your Business
While it’s not easy to be on a receiving end of a nasty customer complaint, it's critical that you don't react emotionally. You are not in the business of getting involved in a screaming match. Always remember that you're in the business of providing a service or product.
Don’t get emotional. Try not to be defensive. Listen and stay calm. These are a few of the most important ingredients for a positive customer experience.
4. Show Your Customers That They Are Important
A large number of customer complaint incidents can be solved by simply showing to the customers that you are ready to hear what they have to say. If you are dealing with a customer complaint in person, make eye contact and use nonverbal gestures (e.g. nodding) to show to the customer that you are listening. If the complaint or review is left on the internet, respond immediately and ask the customer if it's possible to have a private chat.
5. Ask Questions
One of the best ways to resolve a customer complaint quickly is by asking questions. Also, lean towards asking open-ended questions. This will tell the customer that you are listening and you are interested in finding a solution that will be beneficial for both parties. It's also a good idea if you ask the customer how you could have handled the customer complaint better.
Here's one trick you can use to easily show customers that you are listening to their concerns: say something like "I want to understand your situation. So, is it okay for you if I repeat what I think I heard?" Then, of course, you have to repeat what you heard of the customer's situation.
6. Be Timely
Whenever you face a customer complaint, never let the incident linger. If a customer leaves a negative comment or review online, respond immediately. Ignoring the customer will only make it worst and will make your customer feel unvalued. Of course, you should evaluate the situation slowly and formulate a proper response.
However, while you are doing that, you must respond to the initial complaint as soon as possible. A timely response is a good way of showing that your customers are valuable to you. It's also a reflection of how you handle your business and that may play an important role in future customer acquisition.
7. Go Above and Beyond
Once you have a good understanding of the situation, work towards providing an efficient solution. If the solution means a repair, then fix the problem as soon as possible and with a smile. If the resolution comes in the form of a refund, process it immediately.
8. Follow Up With Your Customer
Once the initial issue has been resolved, it's best if you go the extra mile. This means that you don't just leave but instead do a follow-up to ensure that your customer is completely satisfied. If you have done well, then you may have earned yourself a loyal customer. A follow-up email or a call is simple to do, and it's also a great way of determining if there are no other problems that may cause further conflict.
If you are not collecting customer complaint data, then you should start now. As your business moves forward, there are customer complaints that seem to regularly pop-up. If you are not collecting data, it's hard to know what complaints are occurring regularly. Of course, collecting data is just the first step.
Once you have enough data, you'll have a good idea which problems are more common. Then, you should formulate a solution beforehand. So, the next time the same problem occurs, you already have a pre-made solution, and your customer might even think that you are amazingly fast to resolve problems.
Don't think of a customer complaint issue as a nuisance, but rather reframe the incident as an opportunity to learn. It does not matter if you agree or disagree with the customer, and that's not exactly the point, either. The point is to make money, and a company can’t do that when they’re not paying attention to the customers.
When the next customer complaint pops up, remember to stay calm and respond courteously instead of reacting emotionally.