There’s a famous saying: You can’t please all the people all of the time! This saying is relevant to lots of different circumstances but it will be especially relatable to you if you’re a business owner.
Some of your customers will love your products and services and hopefully, they’ll be happy to share their love on social media and business review sites.
But occasionally, you will run into a customer that has a complaint. This complaint could be justified but then again, their accusations against your business could be unwarranted.
You shouldn’t disregard any complaints, even if you think the customer is making a proverbial mountain out of a molehill. According to customer service statistics, 82% of customers are more likely to purchase another product with a business if they have a positive customer service experience. But what if those same customers have a negative customer experience? If we read between the lines, it could be assumed that they won’t return to a business that hasn’t handled their complaints in the right way.
As such, you need to take your customers seriously, regardless of the complaint. The customer isn’t always right, despite what many of us in business are told, but you still need to make them feel important.
So, how should you handle customer complaints? Here are some suggestions we hope you find useful.
1: Respond to the complaint quickly
If your customer has to wait more than a couple of days for a response, the more agitated they are going to get. And as they get more agitated, the more likely they are to leave your business a bad review online, as you will have added to their ire with your slow response.
Therefore, it’s wise to respond to emails and social media messages in a timely way. Delegate replies to your customer service team if you have one or send a response yourself. If you need more time to consider a response, send a message to the customer saying ‘thank you’ for their feedback and let them know that you will be in touch shortly.
If the customer rings you directly, give them a call back at your earliest opportunity if you miss their call. And when you are on the phone with them, be polite, even if you consider them to be completely unreasonable.
2: Ask the right questions
You need to get to the root of the customer’s issue. Sometimes, the issue will be obvious as it will have been spelt out to you by the customer. But there may be times when you have to do a little digging to understand exactly what it is they are complaining about.
Ask such questions as…
- Can you go into a little more detail?
- Could you give me an example?
- What did you mean when you said…?
When you have a better understanding of the complaint being raised, you will be in a better position to deal with it.
3: Present a solution
How will your customer’s complaint be resolved? That’s the key question you need to ask yourself when you’re confronted with a complaint.
The solution will usually be obvious. You might need to give the customer a refund or a replacement product if you have sold them something faulty, for example. Or you might need to offer assistance if they have had technical difficulties with the product they have purchased.
In some cases, you might not have a solution.
In these instances, you might need to transfer the customer to somebody on your team who can offer better assistance.
Or if a solution isn’t possible (usually when the complaint isn’t justified), you should offer an apology, thank the customer for their feedback, and make a promise to better meet their expectations the next time they use your business.
4: Act on the feedback you receive
You should keep a record of all the feedback you receive as you will start to notice recurring trends when the same complaints arise. If a lot of customers complain about the same things, such as overpricing, product faults, or poor customer service, you should take these complaints seriously and act on them.
Using the examples given, you might want to reconsider your pricing strategy, make changes to your product, or re-train your customer service team. When you take action in such ways, you should have fewer complaints coming your way in the future.
5: Follow up with your customers
When you have solved the problem your customer was complaining about, a follow-up phone call or email is one way to show that you care about them.
Ask them such questions as…
- Are you happy with the way your complaint was resolved?
- How easy was it to resolve the issue you had with us?
- Is there anything else we can help you with?
- Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve?
Again, consider the feedback you receive from your follow-up communications and if you do need to make changes to your business, then make every effort to do so.
By taking positive steps to ensure customer satisfaction, your customers are less likely to spread bad word about your business online and they are less likely to leave your business in the dust in favour of one of your competitors.
What not to do when your customer complains
We have considered best practice steps for dealing with customer complaints but what shouldn’t you do? Here are some definite no-nos.
- Don’t dismiss the complaint as silly or insignificant (for the customer, the issue could be of big importance)
- Don’t make promises that you can’t keep (this will anger the customer further)
- Don’t react angrily to the customer (your brand will be negatively impacted if you’re impatient and rude)
- Don’t make false excuses (be truthful at all times)
- Don’t lay the blame with the customer (the customer isn’t always right but you still need to treat them like a VIP)
Customer complaints aren’t a bad thing. Sometimes, they can be the catalyst for improvements in your business, and when handled correctly, they can lead to a better relationship with your customers.
So, consider our suggestions the next time you or your team receive a complaint to ensure you encounter fewer problems with your customers in the future.