Everyone has heard the adage, “The customer is always right.” And while there are times that this idea can really be put to the test, quality customer service is something that every business, no matter what industry, should aspire to possess. Addressing customer complaints is a key part of nailing down that sterling customer service image. Customer complaints can actually benefit your business, as it gives you a clear idea of what areas need improvement and provides you with direct feedback from your clients. Deftly handling customer complaints can build you a strong and loyal client base; disregarding them can result in nothing but lost sales and a poor brand image.
By listening to your customers and responding quickly to their concerns, you give them a good reason to keep doing business with you. Customers find change difficult, but they appreciate changes that are in direct response to their suggestions.
You must take action at the time of the complaint or the problem will only grow larger in the customer’s mind. Left unresolved for too long and the customer will be telling other clients, friends and co-workers about the negative experience. Please use the following format to handle complaints quickly and effectively:
- When the customer comes to you with a complaint, stop whatever you are doing and listen. Acknowledge the customer in an open and positive way. Make eye contact and nod to show you are listening.
- Never argue with a customer. Arguing will not lead to a resolution of the problem.
- When a customer is upset, you need to stay calm and clear-headed.
- Listen patiently until the customer finishes venting. Do not interrupt. If you need more information, ask questions such as “What happened next?”, “What exactly are you requesting that we do?” or “How would you like to see this issue resolved?”
- Assure the customer that you will do everything you can to resolve the problem. Express empathy for their situation.
- Ask the customer to clearly document their complaint in writing, either via letter or email. You might want to create a simple complaint / feedback form so that the customer can easily provide their information and complaint at the time of the incident.
- If you can resolve the problem immediately, do so while the customer is still there. If it cannot be resolved immediately, tell the customer what you plan to do to get a resolution. For example, if the customer is upset that an item is not in stock, immediately research if it can be ordered and let them know as soon as possible.
- Follow up with the customer within 24 hours of the complaint.