Ultimately, your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Without your customers satisfaction, your business would be hard to grow, which is why it’s so crucial to provide the best customer service you possibly can.
We can agree that excellent customer service should always be your priority, but on occasion you may find yourself dealing with a situation like this…
“As I answered the phone, I could tell by the tone of their voice that the customer was upset and frustrated. They had asked to be transferred to a colleague who was unavailable, which caused further frustration.
Whilst listening carefully, taking notes and empathising with the client, I offered to give them a call very shortly after with the information they had requested.
Once the client was reassured that their concerns would be resolved quickly and that we had heard and understood their frustration, they felt calmer.”
It’s unpleasant when a customer loses control and shouts or even swears. This isn’t acceptable professional behaviour, but it’s important to see past the outburst and have empathy for their frustration.
So, what can we learn from the above story? And, what systems can you put in place to manage complaints quickly?
Well, let’s first start with what a customer expects. They expect you:
- To listen actively – give them your undivided attention
- To take initiative and be proactive in attending their needs and without waiting to be asked
- To care about them and appreciate that they’ve asked for help
- To be precise, as their time is valuable
- To provide the best advice when they have concerns.
It’s clear to say that from the above points, customers need:
- To be heard
- Feel valued
- Be understood
- Be supported
Take a minute to reflect on the above points. Are you doing your best to go above and beyond customer expectations?
What system do you need for when things don’t meet a customer’s expectations? Could you have some scripts ready to be sure you get all the information you need to offer a speedy response? We want you to be the solution and not the problem, so here’s how to handle customer complaints in just five steps.
Stay calm and professional
Keep in mind here that the issue is not personal, so it’s important to keep your cool. The customer is letting you know about their concerns on the situation. The way they share the information might not be optimal, but your reaction will have the greatest impact on the outcome.
Focus on their concerns – even if you disagree, as handling their complaint can be the difference in keeping them as a customer or losing them altogether! Building and maintaining relationships is crucial for business success.
Your customer essentially needs to blow off the steam due to the situation, so whilst it’s easy to try and solve the issue straight away, listen carefully and do not interrupt. Try using phrases such as, ‘please could you tell me more’ and ‘I understand that XXX’ – repeat things back to them so they know you’ve heard and understood.
Once the customer can see that you have not reacted, they will be in a calmer state to listen to any solutions you may have to offer.
Acknowledge the complaint
Let the customer know that you’ve heard what they have said and take ownership of the resolution. If appropriate, apologise. You can do this by acknowledging how they feel, simply by saying something like: ‘I can see why this would make you feel frustrated’. Although you are not necessarily agreeing with the customer, you are respecting how they feel about the current situation.
Get the facts
You’ve listened and taken initiative. Now the customer is calmer that you’ve heard their concerns. You want to be careful not to be too scripted but ask genuine questions about the situation, such as, when did this happen? This will help you to get all the details you need to offer a solution.
Offer a solution
At this stage you would have received sufficient details to offer a solution. Keep in mind what you can do within your company’s guidelines, as you don’t want to be making any promises that you cannot commit to!
Be respectful and let the customer know that you are taking ownership of the concern, even if this was out of your control. It’s important to tell the customer what you are going to do to solve the issue and how quickly it will happen.
What can we take from these steps?
We understand that sometimes it can feel overwhelming when a customer is not happy, but simple miscommunication can result in a customer complaint, so it’s important to have a plan in place for how to manage the situation.
Your next steps
Discuss customer feedback, good and bad, with your team. What can you learn? What systems do you need in place?
We hope the strategies shared here help you to implement a plan more quickly. Send us an email and let us know what you’ve implemented – we’d love to hear from you.