Complaints are part of doing business – they always have been. Dealing with complaints, however, has never been so important. This is because customers are now able to broadcast their complaint to a wider audience than ever before. For example, customers can post negative comments on Facebook and write bad online reviews.
Sometimes this happens before a direct complaint is made to you, after a complaint, or in place of a complaint. In all situations, the way you handle the complaint can make or break your business. After all, your customers trust the views of their friends on Facebook and they often trust reviews they read online.
Here are some tips for dealing with complaints in the modern, always-connected world.
Adopt the Right Attitude to Complaints
You approach to customer complaints should start before any are even made. This means adopting a positive approach. That is not always easy to do when someone is being negative about you, but it will help set the right tone for both the customers who complain and the staff who deal with those complaints.
You should also treat complaints as a tool to improve your business. After all, in some situations, complaints can highlight deficiencies. Once you correct them for the customer you can correct them in general to improve your overall level of service.
Policies and Training
You should have clear policies on how staff should deal with complaints and you should make sure they are properly trained. This often includes giving staff the authority to take decisions like giving refunds.
Make sure your plan for dealing with complaints includes proactively searching for them. In many cases, customers who complain about your business don’t do it directly with you. Instead, they leave a review online. You should know where your customers might leave such reviews and you should monitor those places.
Also, make sure you respond to every complaint.
Here are some tips for actually dealing with complaints – both direct complaints and those left online.
- Don’t approach a complaint defensively. Instead, listen to what the customer says and wait until they finish speaking.
- If the complaint is online, ask the customer if you can continue the conversation in private, i.e. by email, direct message, or telephone.
- Thank the customer for their complaint and/or feedback and apologise for the problem they have experienced. Don’t accept blame with this apology, however – it is simply an acknowledgement that something went wrong and you are sorry for the hassle it has caused.
- Make sure you understand the problem properly and get all the information you need to investigate and resolve it. If anything is unclear, get clarification.
- Put yourself in the position of the customer to understand the issue better.
- Take definitive action to correct the problem. If this takes time assure the customer you are working on it and keep in touch with them to give them updates. Correcting the problem can include refunding, offering a discount, or another form of compensation.
- Once the problem is corrected let the customer know and get their feedback on the action taken.
- Learn from the complaint and make any general changes in your business that may be required.
When you deal with complaints properly you can turn the person making the complaint into a loyal customer. This starts by dealing with complaints proactively, positively, and professionally.
For more help or advice with your business please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.