As a business owner there are some things that you can momentarily run away from, but never fully escape. You probably have an idea about what I am talking about! It does not matter whether your design is streamlined or whether you are the “top dog” in the field. Customer complaints are inevitable in the entrepreneurial sense. Not to mention, we live in a society where voicing out one’s concerns is an acceptable behavior.
Complaints must be acknowledged and dealt with in an efficient fashion. Dealing with complaints will help you identify business’ issues and improve its services. On that note, here are Realistic Steps To Handle Customer Complaints:
1. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
It is easy to let your emotions get in the way, when you are faced with a disgruntled customer whose sentiments imply how incompetent you are. I have been in this fueling position before! Let me paint the story for you.
As a frontliner of a contemporary fitness studio, I had the chance to interact with people from different walks of life (including international celebrities). I will never forget the first complaint that I received. With all her might, the customer shouted her concerns regarding her package. It was a humble misunderstanding regarding the promotional package that she bought. Despite my nerves, I took a deep breath and listened to what she had to say.
2. APPEAR INTERESTED
Keeping a straight-face when tackled with criticism is challenging, but it is something that you have to do. Take a step back and carefully listen to the customer’s concerns. Let the customer finish his or her sentiments before you respond.
When responding, it is best to bury your defensive and emotional tones. Responding in an insensitive manner may irritate the customer further. In most cases, the customer is not there to personally attack you. He or she is simply upset about a product or a service and wants an appropriate solution. So, appear interested and emphatic. Respond in a mirroring manner – rephrase his or her concerns to ensure that you understood the situation.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you had a problem with an establishment, at the very least, you would want your voice to be heard.
3. ADDRESS THE PROBLEM/S
The next step leans to the identification of the problem or problems at hand. In a polite and concerned manner, probe the customer to get more information about the seemingly unappealing situation. Does the problem involve certain members of the staff or does it focus on a feature of a particular product?
The more details that you can squeeze out from the customer, the better you can understand his or her perspective. You will begin to understand why the customer acts in this manner. Leveling to where the person is at can allow you to simmer down your emotions as well. Furthermore, it prevents you from jumping into conclusions.
4. APOLOGIZE IMMEDIATELY
A sincere apology acts a first aid to mend the situation. After hearing out his or her entire side of the story, apologize without blaming any employee or department. The heat of a situation is typically diffused when the customer senses that you are genuinely sorry for indirectly or directly causing the unpleasant experience.
For instance, you are a hostess at a large-chain restaurant. A hungry customer complains for waiting in line for more than an hour. You may say something along the lines of: “I apologize for the long queue. We are working as fast as possible to get you a table. We really appreciate your patience and willingness to wait. Until your table is perfectly ready, may I interest you to have a drink at the bar.” Saying this demonstrates that you understand the weight of the customer’s frustration and are working on a dedicated solution.
5. KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS
Every business establishment (regardless of its offline or online nature) should come up with a contingency plan for customer complaints. One of the simplest solutions is giving a sincere apology followed by a thank you note. What is the note for?
As the hit song from the American singer Selena Gomez goes: “kill ’em with kindness”. Rather than defending the operations side, turn the other cheek. Thank the customers for sharing their stories and raising their concerns. Declare your appreciation for their efforts in taking the time to talk or to write to you about it. Then, work on smoothly arriving at a solution with them. You may provide a form of compensation such as a discounted meal, a free dessert, or a gift certificate for the next visit.
Be creative without breaking the bank!