For any small business, a customer complaint is bound to happen at some point. While you may go the extra mile to provide the best service to your customers, there could be an incident that’s talked about.
While negative feedback can be discouraging to you and the success of your business, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you respond appropriately, it could actually benefit both you and the customer. Here are a few tips to better handle customer complaints to keep your business successful.
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1. Evaluate The Complaint
Whether you agree with the customer or not, you must evaluate the complaint in full before taking a next step. Listen to what the customer is saying. Is this about the final product or service provided? Or, are they confused about the total cost? Sometimes, a customer can seem frustrated, but they just need some guidance to understand that there’s a solution in sight. Your job is to calmly help them find that solution and provide a great service.
2. Consider The Medium
How did the customer contact you with the complaint? Was it in person after a job? Was it on social media or an online review? This can help you navigate the next steps of how best to handle it. If the customer is chatting with you in person, you likely don’t have a lot of time to step back and evaluate before you handle it. However, voicemails or online complaints give you a little more flexibility in deciding how to handle the situation.
3. Don’t Get Emotional
While it may be hard to receive a customer complaint, it’s very important you don’t react emotionally. Yelling or being impatient will not resolve the situation. It’s not easy to receive feedback that you may not want to hear. However, do your best to listen and stay calm. Try not to get defensive. This is the first step to a positive customer service experience.
4. Show You’re Listening
Often, the upset customer needs to feel like they’re being heard. If you’re in person, use non-verbal cues like nodding, to show that you’re listening. If it’s a complaint left on the Internet, work to respond as quickly as possible. If possible, ask to chat with them in a direct message or email so you can understand the situation better.
5. Ask Questions To Learn More
Asking questions can help you get to a resolution quickly. Ask open-ended questions about the situation. This shows them that you’re indeed listening to their concerns and want to find a solution that works for all. It’s a good idea to thank them for their feedback before you ask, to show it matters. Ask questions like:
- Where do you think we could’ve improved?
- What would be a good next step to resolve the matter?
- What can I do to turn the situation around for you?
It’s a good idea to also ask to clarify the dilemma. You could say something like “ I really want to completely understand the issue. Is it OK if I repeat what I’ve heard?” Then, in your own words, share your understanding of the situation.
6. Respond & Resolve In A Timely Manner
Don’t let the complaint linger. If someone has left a review or comment online with a complaint, you must respond to it. Ignoring the customer will only make them feel unvalued. While you can and should take time to evaluate a proper response, don’t push it off or ignore it. A public, timely response, especially on social media or review sites, not only shows the customer that you care, but shows potential customer you go the extra mile.
7. Go Above & Beyond
Once you thoroughly understand the situation, work towards the resolution. Do what it takes to make the customer happy. If the resolution calls for a repair, fix it without hesitation and do so with a smile. If the resolution calls for a refund of some sort, make sure it’s processed quickly.
8. Follow Up With The Customer
Once you’ve resolved the issue, don’t just leave it. Follow up with the customer to make sure they are satisfied. If you’ve provided them with excellent customer service, you may have even turned them into a repeat customer! A follow-up call or email also ensures that no other problems have arisen.
9. Learn From The Complaint
Regardless if you agree or disagree with the complaint, there’s always something to learn. Once you’ve turned the situation around and found a solution, reflect on the situation. You might be able to find a takeaway that can help improve your business and processes in the long run.
Customer complaints are never easy or fun to receive. But you can turn things around with how you handle them. Be sure to not react out of emotion, but think clearly and calmly about the situation. Work with the customer to find a solution that’s a win-win for all!