Dealing with customer complaints is a part of sales and customer service. Complaints can occur for many reasons; a faulty product, expectations not met, poor service, lengthy wait time, a mistake and the list goes on.
Regardless of the issue, a complaint must be handled with sensitivity and professionalism. How the situation is handled, may very well determine the overall outcome and whether the customer will choose to do business with that company again.
Body language, facial expression and tone of voice of the person assisting the customer with their complaint, all have an impact on how the customer perceives the situation as well as the outcome. For example, the person should aim to keep their voice low key and slower paced. This tone is calming and makes it difficult for the customer to get wound up or angry. On the other hand, if the person speeds up and raises their voice, the customer is much more likely to match the tone.
It is also important to have a system or process for staff to follow when handling customer complaints, as this can see them resolved quickly and effectively. For example;
Step 1: Listen and don’t interrupt.
It can be tempting to jump in to reply or dispute what a customer is saying however, resist the urge and don’t interrupt. Give the customer full attention and let them finish before responding.
Step 2: Thank the customer and apologise.
Once the customer has finished explaining the problem, thank them for bringing it to the attention of the company and sincerely apologise. Many customers don’t take the time to make a complaint. They dwell on their frustration, tell other people about the bad experience and never do business with that company again. A company would much rather know of a problem and have the opportunity to rectify it and prevent it from happening in the future.
Step 3: Show empathy.
A customer needs to feel that the person assisting them is on their side and that they genuinely care. Show empathy by understanding the situation from the customers’ perspective.
Step 4: Offer a prompt solution.
No one wanting to take responsibility to find a solution and passing the customer from one person to another, will only frustrate the customer more. One person should be responsible for handling the complaint and follow it through to the end, finding a solution promptly.
Through having a clear process for staff to follow and providing them with training in how to deal with these sometimes difficult situations, it is possible to manage complaints effectively. It may even see an unhappy customer become a satisfied loyal customer, simply by the manner in which their complaint was received and handled.