If your business has never received a complaint from a customer you are either very lucky, extremely good at what you do or you have not been trading for long!
All companies receive complaints from time to time. If you are adept at customer complaint handling then you really can make the difference between whether you lose the customer for good or increase their loyalty to you. YES. You did read that correctly. A complaint correctly handled can enhance your reputation in the eyes of your customer. The first thing to do on receipt of a complaint is to welcome it. By taking the time and trouble to complain the customer is giving you the opportunity put things right. This is a strong indication that they really would like to continue to do business with you.
The other option open to them is to not tell you they are unhappy with you and then to go elsewhere in future.
Complaint Handling is An Opportunity to Impress
I am sure that we have all been to a restaurant, experienced poor service or a sub-standard meal but decided to say nothing and then never went back to that restaurant again. However, we are likely to tell friends and acquaintances and so the word gets spread. In fact it is well known that we are more likely to relay a bad experience that we have had than a good one.
Complaint Handling is An Opportunity to Impress – Be empathetic
Thank the customer for bringing the matter to your attention and express your intention of doing whatever it takes to resolve the issue. Apologise that not everything is to the customer’s complete satisfaction. Do not accept blame at this stage.
Complaint Handling is An Opportunity to Impress – Listen Actively
Whatever has gone wrong may not be down to you. Obtain the full facts before making any promises to the customer. It may be that the complaint is unjustified. In which case you will need to state your own side of the story. The customer is not always right but remember ‘The customer always has rights’. The future of your company is dependent on the relationships you have with your customers. Sometimes the issues can be caused by something out of your control. For example you may have dispatched goods on time but the courier company has failed to deliver when expected. However, the customer has a contract with you and not the parcel delivery company so do not pass the buck and make excuses or refuse to help because you believe it was not your fault.
Put the resolution back in the customer’s hands
If you discover that your are at fault then by all means apologise at this stage and offer to put things right. If they are not satisfied with your offer then ask the customer how they would wish the problem to be resolved. In other words, what would be acceptable to them. It is often the case that the customer is expecting less than you would be prepared to give. Resolve the issue in such a way that they feel better about your company than they would have done had they not had reason to complain in the first place.
Complaint Handling is An Opportunity to Impress – Check back later
Always check with the customer that the steps you put in place have resolved their issues. This shows that you care for the customer and increases the chances that they will continue to use your services.
Respond to Social Media Complaints
Complaint Handling is An Opportunity to Impress – There is a growing trend for unhappy customers to air their complaints about a company using Twitter, Facebook or other social media forums. These complaints are very public and the way in which you handle them can have a massive impact on how your company is viewed. A badly handled response can lead to a lot of bad publicity and do untold damage to your brand and reputation. Do not simply ignore or delete them. Treat them in the same way that you would if the complaint was made directly to you. Contact the complainant indicating your willingness to resolve the situation. Your interactions could be read by many people and your positive responses could turn a potentially tricky situation in to one in which the dissatisfied customer becomes a brand ambassador.
So, as you can see, however received, a complaint from a customer really does give you an opportunity to impress.
If you would like more advice on how to handle customer complaints then contact The Last Hurdle, Business Development Specialists. We work with SME’s to help them grow their businesses.