Ask any customer service representative about their least favorite part of their job, and they will probably tell you it is unhappy customers. No one likes getting thrown into an emotionally charged situation with a customer whose expectations have not been met by your business.
It is important to instill in your customer service staff the importance of handling customer complaints in a positive way. These tips can help you and your staff transform customer complaints into golden opportunities for your company.
Seize the Day!
The first step in handling customer complaints is to recognize them as the opportunity that they are. Studies have shown that the vast majority of customers (more than 90%) will never complain about less than stellar service. Instead, they will quietly move their business elsewhere. Many complaining customers are actually voicing their frustration to give you the chance to fix the situation and repair the business relationship.
Unfortunately, frustrated customers quickly become angry customers, which makes them much more difficult to manage. Instead of trying to argue or shout over an angry customer, let them have their say. Listen carefully to what they are saying so you can identify the basis of the problem.
Once they have stated their case, try repeating the problem to make sure you heard it correctly. Voila! Your angry customer has now become a merely frustrated customer who is willing to hear what you can do to remedy the problem.
The Power of an Apology
If your customer's frustration stems from an error on the part of your company, do not be afraid to apologize for the mistake. It is amazing to see how many customers are simply looking for an "I'm sorry" from a business, yet so many businesses are hesitant to offer it. An apology is one of the quickest ways to make the customer feel validated in their concerns. However, do not stop with the apology, or it will appear that you are only paying lip service to the issue.
Find a Fix
When your customer has a legitimate problem, it is up to your customer service staff to fix it. Empower your staff with the knowledge and authority to deal with the majority of customer complaints, so your frustrated customer does not have to be referred to another entity to get their problem solved. If the problem is one that can be repeated due to a faulty system or poor procedure, make the necessary changes so it does not happen again.
You have met your customer's expectations. You have listened to their complaint, apologized for the inconvenience and fixed the problem. Now take your service a step further. Send your customer a discount for their next visit or follow up with a phone call to see if there is anything else you can do to keep the business. When your customer talks about your company to others, this is the step in the process they will relay most.
Customer complaints are not easy to deal with, but proper handling can transform an angry customer into a loyal one. Teach your staff these steps, and they will be properly prepared to take customer complaints in stride.