Tips on Dealing With Customer Complaints

jokeWe all have customer service horror stories, don’t we? We do our best to meet and exceed expectations, but mistakes happen. Nobody likes to think about angry customers, owning up to our mistakes, or maybe worst of all, having to deal with a situation that was beyond our control.

How do you handle a bad situation properly, and  have a good chance to convert an unhappy customer into one that’s pleased and impressed.

They may become your most ardent fans, sharing the story with family and friends, not to mention social media.

Here are a few tips from customer service trainers:

1.) Remember it’s about the customer: It is not just the problem. Take a deep breath and be prepared to focus on the situation. Don’t take it personally. Be ready to put aside the criticism, fair or unfair, and deal with the present situation.

2.) Let them know you are concerned: Signal your concern by simply asking a neutral question, like, “Tell me what happened.” Don’t interrupt, don’t explain. Even if you think you can solve the problem, let the customer explain the situation completely before you jump in. Watch your body language, too. Keep it open, not defensive.

First, it shows that you’re listening and concerned. Second, it assures you fully understand the issues so you can address them appropriately

You’ll be amazed how this changes the mood. Saying you’re sorry doesn’t mean you agree. In fact, it’s best to keep the response neutral, “I’m sorry you’re upset.” Or, “I’m sorry there’s a problem.”

Sometimes your solution will be clear. If it’s not, ask your customer what would satisfy them. If you take the second route, be sure to signal there are limits to what you can accomplish by saying, “I’ll do all I can to meet your expectations, or we can work out a solution together.”

Be sure that the resolution really satisfied the customer.

See if other customers have this same problem. If so, look for and correct the root causes.

You can’t eliminate 100% of problems, so be sure everyone is prepared. Have a refresher on the company’s service policies and some training on addressing complaints.

Deliver on your solution. And add something extra. Go the extra mile with the gift of an accessory or by offering a discount on the current or a future purchase. Consider giving the customer your name and phone number for a personal follow-up if they have questions.

It’s never fun to be on the receiving end of complaints. Still, if we see them as opportunities for success instead of scars of failure, we can transform unhappy customers into the most loyal of all.

Reprinted with permission from the Clarity Blog

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