Handling customer complaints can be stressful. No one wants to deal with difficult customers. Whether you like it or not, handling customer complaints becomes vital to providing excellent customer service. Just how important is handling customer complaints? 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, but 91% will just leave. So getting customer sentiments will help your business deliver the customer experience they expect from you.
Let’s face it, customers of all kinds will have a complaint about your business. For this reason, you must learn how to deal with them to ensure a positive customer experience. Resolving customer complaints will enable you to improve your business reputation and processes. Here are some tips on how you can deal with customer complaints.
Handling Customer Complaints
- Put Your Emotions Aside
- Stay Calm
- Listen To The Customer Intently
- Show Empathy
- Acknowledge The Problem
- Apologize And Thank The Customer
- Ask Questions
- Provide Options
- Be Flexible
- Document Responses
- Follow Up
Handling Customer Complaints
Customers complain for various reasons – some are justified, while others are not. More than 90% of customers who complain about your product or service will simply leave. When customers have a complaint, you have no recourse but to deal with it or risk losing those customers. So read on and find out how you can deal with customer complaints.
1. Put Your Emotions Aside
When handling complaints don’t let your emotions get the better of you. To you, it may feel like an attack on your business and you can easily become emotional about it. Before dealing with customer complaints, check your emotions first. You need to keep your cool and avoid being emotional to successfully deal with a customer complaint.
When handling customer complaints, follow the EES formula:
- Emotions – manage your own emotions first
- Emotions – then manage or meet customer’s emotional needs
- Solution – once the emotions part has been handled, proceed with discussing and communicating solutions
The issue at hand is not about you so there is no use defending yourself. Check your emotions first. Customers want to be listened to and respected. They want validation that it is okay to feel and think as they do.
2. Stay Calm
When handling customer complaints, keep in mind that the issue is not a personal attack but rather about a product or service. It is perfectly natural to become defensive when you think you are being attacked but it is best to approach the situation as professionally as possible and keep your cool.
Losing your cool or letting your emotions get the best of you is never a good thing. You are more likely to resolve the complaint and deliver the best customer experience if you stay calm and keep your cool. By staying calm, you will be able to listen to what the customer is saying and give them the appropriate solutions.
3. Listen To The Customer Intently
Customers want to feel heard. They reach out to you with a problem and the last thing they want to hear is an agent arguing with them and challenging what they have to say. No matter how trivial their complaint may be, just hear them out. Maybe they are already having a bad day and the issue with their order may have turned the bad day into the worst.
What your customer needs is someone who will actively listen to them. Don’t assume that you know what the customer wants or needs and don’t think of them as trivial as well. Just hear them out and pay close attention to what they are saying. Letting them talk without being interrupted will give them time to calm down.
4. Show Empathy
After letting the customer vent their frustrations to you, let them know that you sincerely care about their problems even if you do not agree with some of their comments. You may not totally agree with what they are saying but you need to respect what they feel or perceive about their situation. Be kind to them. Most of the time, it will help diffuse their anger and frustration by being understanding.
Responding in a supportive and concerned tone of voice is one way of showing the customer that you value what they have to say and you want to help them resolve their problem. Let them know that you understand their frustration and where they are coming from. They just want someone with whom they can voice out their concerns.
5. Acknowledge The Problem
Customers have various reasons for complaining. Maybe they are upset that the processing of their orders took long or the product they purchased did not meet their expectations. Whatever is the root of their complaint, acknowledge it and ensure the customer that you heard what they said. If you or your company made a mistake, accept it. If not, simply explain it to the customer.
Acknowledging the problem does not mean you agree with what the customer is saying, it only means you understand them and respect what they are saying. Repeat what the customer said as an assurance that their complaints were heard. You can use phrases like “So if I understand you correctly” or “I can see how that might be frustrating for you.”
6. Apologize And Thank The Customer
It may be difficult on your part to swallow your pride and issue an apology to the customer. Like acknowledgment, apologizing does not mean that you agree with the customer. At this point, it doesn’t matter who caused the problem. Sometimes the customer is not always right and they are the ones who made the error. You are apologizing to the customer because they are upset about the situation and this implies ownership.
By apologizing, you are letting the customer know that you are going to resolve their problem. After apologizing, thank the customer for reaching out to you with their issue. It only goes to show that you aim to improve your business. Issuing an apology, no matter who is at fault, will help the customer calm down and be open to problem resolution.
7. Ask Questions
Once the customer has settled down and is calm, it’s time for the resolution of the problem. Dig deeper into the root of the problem by asking questions. Veer away from scripted replies in the meantime and start a genuine conversation. This is the perfect time to earn the trust of the customer. Get as much information as you can.
However, you want to avoid questions that your customer has already answered. Making them repeat themselves will only trigger their emotions again as it would make the customers feel like you were not listening after all. By asking the right question, you will be able to get to the root of the complaint and figure out a way to resolve the issue. If you need to transfer them to the right person who can better address the complaint, make sure to explain it to the customer.
8. Provide Options
Once you have all the details, start offering them solutions to their problem. It could be a repair, replacement, refund, or apology. Keep in mind though that you should know what you can and cannot do within company guidelines. Making a promise you cannot commit will only hold you back.
Let the customer know that you take ownership of the issue and that you will do your best to resolve their problem. If an employee from another department is more equipped to handle the concern, make the transition smooth by explaining the issue so the customer would not have to repeat themselves again.
9. Be Flexible
If no resolution is possible to ensure customer satisfaction, look for other ways you can deliver customer service. For example, you can give them discount cards to a local coffee shop or other rewards. This way, you are also helping the local coffee shop by bringing in more people to their store.
Being flexible means learning from your experience with the customer. It means identifying what needs to be changed or improved. Flexibility means determining how the changes can best be carried out and reintegrating them into the customer experience process.
10. Document Responses
Go through the complaint in detail so you can understand the root of the problem. Keep records of all complaints in one central place or register. This will help you identify any trends or issues. Document every complaint so you and your team can review them for future opportunities. You can monitor the complaints log and use it as a learning tool for your employees.
By recording customer complaints, you can highlight a problem with your product, employees, or internal processes. This will help you investigate and prevent future customer complaints. When handled quickly, you can turn these customers into loyal shoppers or even brand advocates.
11. Follow Up
Once you have successfully handled the complaint, you should follow up with the customer to make sure that the resolution does work. Reach out to them and apologize again for the negative experience. Contact the customer to see if they were satisfied with how their complaint was handled.
Train your employees on how to handle complaints and empower them to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Encourage customers to provide feedback so you know if there is a problem and you can have the opportunity to resolve it.
Handling customer complaints effectively will help increase customer loyalty. It will help you identify where changes need to be made to prevent the same error in the future.
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