Tricky situations: What to do when a customer complains
No matter how dedicated we are to creating a perfect experience, there will be times when a customer feels they haven’t received the service they deserve. Don’t stress! This is normal, and whether the problem is out of your control, or simply down to human error, you have a great opportunity here.
Yes, that’s right, negative feedback can actually be a good thing for your business and a chance to turn an unsatisfied customer into a loyal brand advocate. Keep reading for our top tips for handling customer complaints.
1. Listen carefully
Listen to your customer and let them finish what they’re saying before you respond to their complaint. Show them that you were really paying attention by asking relevant questions and repeating parts of their story for clarification. Interrupting your customer and becoming defensive will start things off on the wrong foot, which obviously isn’t a good idea when you’re trying to solve their problem!
2. Imagine yourself in their shoes
Show your customer that you care by responding appropriately with empathy. Imagine being in the same situation and also imagine how you’d want to be spoken to. Make comments that highlight your understanding of their feelings, for example, “that must be really frustrating” or “I’d be upset about that too.”
3. Take ownership of the situation
One of the most frustrating things you can do is start blaming another person, company, branch, etc. Even if the problem is not your fault, take ownership and apologise. Don’t be vague or say things like, “I’m sorry you’re having this problem.” Provide a genuine apology and start thinking about how you can then provide a solution.
4. Use positive language
Focus on the bright side and try to avoid using negative language. If a customer is looking for three items and you only have two, you should say something like, “luckily, we have two in stock for you already and we’ll order the third one right now,” instead of “unfortunately we don’t have the amount you requested.”
5. Explain your movements
This is particularly important if you need to transfer a customer on a phone call or hand them over to someone more knowledgeable in store. Explain that you are bringing in the expert in this area to help them or that you are transferring them to a department which knows exactly how to fix their problem. Explain the benefits of the transfer. The key is to make sure your customer doesn’t feel like a burden or like their issue isn’t important to you.
6. Keep records of past issues with their solutions
If it has happened once, it’s not impossible that another customer will have an identical or similar problem. Record the solutions to all resolved issues so employees know exactly how to handle particular complaints. If a certain issue is recurring more often than it should, you can spend the time making a more permanent solution.
7. Ask if you can help with anything else
It may sound like an afterthought, but you don’t want your customer to think you’re busting to get away from them after solving their problem. Always ask if there is anything more you can do to help. Chances are they’ll say no, but it will still make them feel like you care about providing a positive sales experience.
8. Provide opportunities for customers to leave feedback
While some customers won’t be shy about complaining, others would prefer something more anonymous, especially if they just want to share a suggestion for improvement, rather than a specific complaint. Provide legitimate channels for them to leave this feedback. For example, a dedicated email address, a customer feedback phone number, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
What is your best tip for calming down an angry customer?