Every company strives to deliver excellent customer service, but no matter the size of your company, a customer complaint is inevitable, it’s how you deal with that complaint that can make all the difference. A complaint could be used into an opportunity to turn that customer around, as those who don’t complain may just buy from a competitor when disgruntled.
So what should you do when you get a complaint? Here are some top tips to point you in the right direction.
- Quick Thinking. Once you receive a complaint, don’t just leave it for a few days on your to do list. Instead, reply to the letter, email, phone call, blog post or tweet within a couple of hours no matter how outrageous the complaint would seem.
- Sorry really is the hardest word but regardless of your opinion an apology helps. In some cases, it may not be legally advisable to publicly apologise, but using “I’m/We’re sorry you feel that way” or “We’re sorry, that wasn’t our intention” shows professional courtesy and sympathy in order to calm the situation.
- Be positive. Try and take an optimistic approach to the problem and focus on what you can do to help over what you can’t do; that won’t be helpful to you or the disgruntled customer.
- Consider the impact on your business. It may not seem the right way to go about it, but thank the person for raising their concern and be genuine when dealing with the complaint, as by remaining professional will create happy customers and perhaps help towards future business dealings. It would aid your company’s reputation too.
- Communicate. Keep the customer up to date with the process, so that if it can’t be solved straight away you have explained why, how you’re tackling it and can provide an estimated time frame. It’s about being transparent.
- Discover the reason why it happened, as well as solving the problem. It’s important to understand the cause of the complaint in the first place and put processes in place whilst solving the issue, that will prevent it from happening again.
- Record, listen and analyse complaints on an ongoing basis as this will help with training new staff, as well as existing workforce and identify any trends that could affect your business in the future.
- Listen to customer suggestions as they will feel that they are having an influence on the future processes of the business and improving service for others. This input could change a negative situation into a positive one, as this simple step could be all they need.
- Attitude is everything. How you react to the complaint – whether face-to-face, on the phone or in writing – can have a big effect on the way you will handle the issue as a whole. It’s essential that you keep an open mind, stay calm and under no circumstances go on the defensive.
- Follow up on the complaint and show that your company cares. Just because you have now dealt with the issue effectively, it can be a good opportunity to continue nurturing that particular customer. It can be as simple as sending a gift voucher or a bottle of wine as compensation for their troubles.
A complaint is never a nice experience for any company, but hopefully these tips will go in some way of helping you to solve any that come through. Don’t put your business at risk because you haven’t got the right complaints procedure in place.