Tips to help you resolve customer complaints
Q RECENTLY a customer complaint almost cost my business the loss of a very large client as it was handled badly, can you give me some advice on handling customer complaints?
A Most small businesses will receive complaints at one stage or another. But it's how you deal with them that matters. When your small business receives a complaint, the natural reaction is for you, as business owner, to feel defensive. Managing most complaints will be genuine issues from upset or disappointed customers. They aren't trying to make trouble for you - they're letting you know that your business has made a mistake.
The most successful, customer-focused companies embrace complaints, because complaints are unsolicited feedback.
WHY YOU SHOULD EMBRACE COMPLAINTS?
A complaint is a raw, direct interaction from a customer and it should be treated as a valuable source of information about your business.
If you can resolve their problem, you'll also be resolving the problem for other customers who have experienced it but didn't have the time or energy to complain.
Here are some tips to help you resolve the issue to the customer's satisfaction
- Talk to the customer with a phone call, personalise the situation
- Find out what they want and listen carefully to the response, understand the customer's perspective
- Ask about wider issues and encourage feedback about your service?
- Be prepared for anger and emotion- respond rationally not emotionally
- If a customer is irrational or angry or abusive, be prepared for an escape route, no one has the right to treat you or your staff badly
- Look for the underlying cause especially if you are receiving numerous complaints about the same issue
- Give something back, offer a discount off next bill or a voucher?
- Confirm your solution in detail by phone and follow up by email or letter
- Keep in touch, schedule a follow up to ensure you still have a happy customer and make this personal again
- Don't ignore complaints, if you deal with the issue quickly enough, you should be able to resolve it and keep your customer
- Have a customer complaint procedure in place, it is part of business and will help reduce any negative impact on your business
- Make it easy for customers to complain with feedback forms on your website or have staff ask customers for feedback regularly
- Train your staff how to handle complaints and be polite in their approach
AUDIT YOUR INTERNAL CUSTOMER SERVICE PROCESS
Appoint a member of your staff as the key person to handle complaints and let them be responsible for auditing the customer satisfaction process. This will ensure the necessary changes to fix a broken process will be actioned, and could save your business money down the line.
Try to develop a company-wide attitude where complaints are opportunities to be welcomed. If you teach your staff to listen, you'll find out a lot more about what makes your customers unhappy. That will also tell you what you need to do to keep them happy.