All businesses face complaints. We must accept the fact that complaints will occur and begin to see them as opportunities to better our services. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to handle customer complaints well.
The customer may not always be right but he/she still deserves to be treated right. We must make efforts to make them happy. Although there are some customers that could be constant whiners or would want to exploit the system, most of them are just looking to get their problems solved.
Handle Complaints Quickly
It is extremely important to handle complaints properly and quickly. According to statistics, 70% of customers will do business with you again if their complaints are handled to their satisfaction while 95% will come back should the complaint be resolved speedily. Although this is overly simplified, it categorically implies that when complaints from customers are resolved quickly, they are more impressed with our business, probably believe we care about their needs and, thus, more likely to return. And what's the worth of the customer to us down the line? The lifetime value of that customer to our business can be substantial.
Given that responding quickly is very vital, your employees must be empowered to deal with complaints. If the manager has to be called upon whenever there's a complaint, it invariably increases the time spent handling the complaint. In addition, by suggesting the issue must be dealt with at management level, we increase the emotional cost to the customer. The likelihood that the complaint will not be dealt with on the spot is also increased as the customer may not wish to wait for the manager. Employees also find themselves in difficult situations as they are usually at the receiving end of the customer's complaints and are unable to solve their problems.
Training Is Essential
With the aid of guidelines, empowering employees to handle complaints will improve the situation to a great extent. But, it is not enough to only empower. Proper training should be given to employees. When faced with complaints, humans naturally become defensive, offer excuses, focus on saving immediate cost instead of focusing on the long-term or lifetime value of the customer to the business and proffering solutions.
Below are twelve guidelines that can be followed by your employees when handling customer complaints to ensure they are satisfied:
- Avoid personalizing the complaints- the customer is angry at the failure of the product or service, not at you!
- Never get into arguments with the customer, or become defensive or make excuses. Listen to the customer's complaints first.
- Ensure that your response shows empathy or addresses the problem. Examples include: “I understand how this could upset you;” “Let’s see how we can solve this problem;” “I’m sorry that you had this problem.”
- Don’t be in a hurry to admit you're wrong (except the mistake is obviously from you). You must protect your business from any potential legal issues that may crop up.
- Get your facts right. Understand the problems in question in all its details, how it happened and why.
- Identify what exactly the needs of the customer are when it is not clear.
- Proffer a solution. Inform the client of what can be done and when it will be done. Instead of giving emphasis on what cannot be done, focus on what can be done.
- Note down the grievance on a piece of paper in the customer's presence, if the complaint does not require immediate action, show appreciation and assure them the issue would be resolved.
- Explore the option of exceeding the customer's expectation by offering even more than they are demanding. Keep in mind the customer has invested lots of time and emotion. Think about the customer's lifetime value to the business.
- Take down the customer's name, phone number and address for possible follow up on satisfaction and to identify difficult customers.
- Note the problem and solution (including time, place, etc.) so others can learn and evaluate.
- Follow up with the customer if the resolution of this complain was done to his satisfaction.
Correct Repetitive Problems
While dealing with customer's complaint presents an opportunity to build relationships, making the same mistake repeatedly isn't good. If this keeps happening, customers will come to the realization that the mistake is part of the system and won't return. Receiving feedback from customers helps to identify such system glitches and mapping out service process helps reveal the reason the errors occurred in the first instance. The steps outlined above are based on the assumption that the customer is reasonable.
Being able to handle complaints properly is essential to the success of any business. It requires that we plan, train and trust our employees but it'll all be worth it in the end as it clearly pays back.
Large part of our courses at Atton Institute are dedicated to all the tips and hints on how to deliver quality of service. See the list of our courses to learn more.