Customer complaints are a fact of life in any business, but they can be managed effectively with the right tools and knowledge. The first step is to accept that complaints are inevitable. The next is to understand how to handle them effectively when they occur.
Customers who complain about a product or service are often unhappy and upset. They may feel that they have been cheated or taken advantage of, and they may be ready to take their business elsewhere. So it’s important to respond quickly, apologize sincerely and try to make things right.
Read on to find out exactly how to do this.
1. Resolve problems as quickly as possible
The faster the resolution, the better the chances for maintaining loyalty. If a customer contacts you with a complaint, respond quickly — preferably within 24 hours. If you can’t reach the customer immediately, let him know when he can expect a response from you.
Strive to resolve complaints on the first contact and when that isn’t possible, final resolution should occur within 5 – 10 business days in order to maintain and build loyalty.
2. Give Them Something
Coupons, product samples, and other freebies have a definite impact on loyalty after a service failure has occurred. Giving customers token items, such as coupons or product samples, after a service failure both increases the perception of value and serves to maintain loyalty.
3. Only allow the friendliest, most helpful, and diplomatic employees to talk to customers
Employee courtesy and attitude are critical factors in regaining the goodwill of customers who have experienced a problem. Customers contacting a company with a problem want to talk to a person who is courteous, professional sympathetic and understanding.
Additionally, employees must be skilled in communicating with diplomacy, expressing empathy, and representing the company credibly and convincingly during times of consumer distress. The attitudes and behaviors of frontline professionals form powerful lasting impressions with customers whether these impressions are positive or negative.
4. Apologize sincerely
A simple “I’m sorry” goes a long way toward making customers feel heard and valued. Letting customers know that their concerns are valid and important shows that you care about their experience and helps them feel more satisfied with your company’s services or products.
Finally, don’t assume that every complaint is justified or even sincere; some people are just going through the motions so they can get something out of it (like free stuff). But even if someone is being unreasonable or dishonest about their complaint, there may still be something you can do about it — so don’t dismiss them too quickly!