Top Tips for Handling Customer Complaints
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Handling customer complaints is something that many businesses struggle with; however, it costs much more in time, money, and effort to gain new customers then it does to retain an existing one. While effectively communicating with an unsatisfied customer can be difficult, these five tips will help you handle complaints with confidence.
1) Attitude is everything
The attitude you have going into an issue has a large effect on the way that you will react. It’s really important to keep an open mind, stay calm and under no circumstances go on the defensive.
Remember: * Complaints and problems are opportunities to build trust * Customers are humans first * How would you feel if you were experiencing the problem?
2) It’s not just about what you say…
Body language is a powerful form of communication that extends to demeanour, facial expressions, and even posture. You can be saying all the right things but convey the exact opposite with your body language. Here are a few ways you can communicate effectively without words.
Make eye contact with the customer Nod occasionally to show that you are listening and understand the problem Stand or sit up straight - you don’t want to appear disinterested, bored or tired
Of course for some companies, complaints may not be dealt with face-to-face; instead they will be handled over the phone. You might think that in this instance you don’t need to worry so much about body language - after all the customer can’t see you! Nevertheless they will pick up a lot from your tone of voice; again here, you don’t want to sound disinterested, bored or tired.
3) The customer’s problem is your problem
Customers are the only reason that your business is able to do what it does. When a customer has a problem, listen with a perspective that is positive and empathetic. Customers want to know that they are being heard and taken seriously. Give the customer a chance to explain their problem and make sure you understand what has gone wrong and why. Ask further questions (where appropriate) to ensure that you have a full understanding of the situation.
4) If possible, fix the problem immediately
Once you have acknowledged the issue and apologised for the inconvenience, if at all possible, find a solution immediately. A customer’s time is limited. They didn’t take time out of their day to talk to you so that they can come back later. If it is not possible to fix the problem right away, then explain the steps that you will be going through to resolve the issue and when they can expect to hear back from you. Not all issues can be fixed straight away, but ensure you keep the customer in the loop at each stage so they know what you are doing to come to a resolution.
5) Take the opportunity to delight your customers
The manager of a local restaurant recently received a complaint from a customer whose car was clamped in a nearby car park whilst they were eating at the restaurant. Despite not being culpable he offered to pay the fees to have the clamp removed. In doing so, he took the opportunity to go the extra mile and win that customer for life.
However, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to win a customer. Often a relatively small gesture can go a long way. Above all, remember that your customers want you to listen to their complaints and take steps to resolve them.
About the author: Jasper Martens is the community manager at SimplyBusiness.co.uk who offer a range of products and services for SMEs including Public Liability Insurance.
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