Customers serve as the lifeblood of any business. Without them purchasing your products or services, your company would never grow or succeed, which is why customer service is incredibly important.
Thanks to the internet and social media, customers are increasingly becoming vocal about their experiences with a business regardless if it’s bad or good. They leave feedback on company websites, review sites, and social media business pages.
If you’re running a customer-centric business, you’re likely to receive a complaint at some point.
When you get an angry or dissatisfied customer, you could easily lose your temper and say something that can add fuel to the fire or ruin the reputation of your business. Your goal, therefore, is to make sure that you handle customer complaints the right way to avoid problems that can destroy your business.
Here are a few tips to help you handle customer complaints as successfully and gracefully as possible:
- Acknowledge the Problem
Let the customer know that you are listening and understanding what they’re saying. If you or your business made an error, admit it right away.
On the other hand, if you didn’t make a mistake and the situation is a misunderstanding, explain that to the customer. A sample statement you could use is, “I understand how this is frustrating for you.” When you say this, you’re not necessarily agreeing to what the customer is saying, but respecting how they feel and perceive the situation.
A great phrase that you can use for opening up this specific conversation is, “Let me see if I understand you correctly.” Then, restate the problem. If the problem, for instance, is the delay in the delivery of the customer’s high-quality mattress, you could say something like this:
“So, if I understand the situation right, there’s a delay in the delivery of your ordered mattress. You were expecting your order on [specify date here], but it did not arrive. I can see how that’s frustrating for you.”
Then, be quiet for a few seconds. The customer will usually respond with “exactly” or “that’s right” if you acknowledged the problem properly. By effectively restating to the customer what you think you heard, you’ll lower their defenses and get the right to be heard.
2. Get the Facts
After acknowledging the issue, take the initiative in the call or conversation by getting the facts. Once the customer has calmed down or felt that you’ve heard their side, start asking questions.
When you’re raising questions, never sound scripted, even if you’re following company policy or protocol. Use this time as an opportunity to begin a heartfelt conversation, establishing a relationship with your customer. While you’re doing this, get as many details as you can to help you fully understand the situation.
3. Provide Support
Customer support comes in a range of sizes and shapes. Sometimes, it means exchanging a defective item for a new one. Other times, it’s simply listening to their rants, even if this consumes your time, energy, and patience.
Support, though, should not be black and white. If you paid attention to what your customer is saying, you’ll be able to recommend ways to support them – or even better – an ideal way to help them. You have to judge on what works best, but remember that support means offering your customer something in response to their complaint.
4. Be Flexible
If the support or resolution you provided is not living to the expectations of your customer, don’t fret. Consider other ways that you can help them.
You could, for instance, come up with a company policy to have $20 gift cards to give out to upset customers (or even to customers who are clearly having a terrible day). Being flexible and getting creative with the solutions is the key to turning a frown upside down.
5. Thank Your Customer
The saying or phrase, “kill them with kindness” couldn’t be truer in a customer complaint. Instead of smiling and pretending that you care, sincerely let the customer know how grateful you are for sharing with you their complaint.
You can, for example, inform them right off the bat that you genuinely appreciate them for taking the time to speak with you about their issue and you want to understand exactly what they’re saying. This allows you to further listen to them, while hopefully providing them with the understanding that you’d like to hear what they have to say.
Don’t let the complaint of the customer intimidate or upset you. Instead, follow these best practices to defuse the customer and provide a resolution to their problem.
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