6 Steps for dealing with customer complaints
At some point you will have to deal with an upset customer. Your challenge is to handle the situation in a way that leaves the customer thinking you are a great company to deal with, and they become a passionate advocate for your brand.
Many customers don’t even bother to complain. They simply leave and buy from your competitors. Research suggests up to 80% of customers who leave were in fact “satisfied” with the original company. Obviously “customer satisfaction” is not enough. You need to positively delight customers if you want to earn their loyalty.
Counter intuitively, your ability to effectively deal with customer complaints provides a great opportunity to turn dissatisfied customers into an active promoters of your business.
Listen carefully to what the customer has to say. Let them finish
Don’t get defensive. The customer is not attacking you personally; they have a problem and are upset. Repeat back what you are hearing to show that you have listened to them.
Ask questions in a caring, concerned manner
The more information you can get from the customer, the better you will understand their perspective. Ask questions to clarify the problem.
Put yourself in their shoes
Your goal is to solve the problem, not argue with them that the company is right and they are wrong. The customer needs to feel you are on their side, and that you empathize with them.
Apologize without blaming
When a customer senses that you are sincerely sorry, it usually diffuses the situation. Don’t blame another person or department. Just say, “I’m sorry about that.”
Ask the customer, “What would be an acceptable solution to you?”
Whether or not the customer knows what a good solution would be, propose one or more solutions to alleviate their pain. Become a partner with the customer in solving the problem.
Solve the problem, or find someone who can solve it. Quickly!
Research indicates that customers prefer the person they are speaking with to be able to solve their problem. Managers must delegate authority for problem solving to staff working at the customer interface. When complaints are moved up the chain of command, they become more expensive to handle and only add to the customer’s frustration. They suspect that some manager who does not empathize with their situation will make a decision against them based on some “company policy”.
Chief Operating Officer - Global Operations