Tips for Handling Customer Complaints

By the standard of human wants and needs, the economist declares them insatiable. This comes to play over again even in cases where companies have reached the ”perfect point”. The satisfaction Mr A derives still has a gap with that Mr B would derive.

Complaints happen every day. When a customer complains, it is usually for a positive genuine concern, except in some negative cases. They usually have made a purchase that did not meet their expectation—a product, service, or maybe a combination of the two. In service to customers, the businessman cannot overrule  complaints, particularly because they are a vital part of his business chain.

It is one thing to make a complain, it is another to identify and resolve it. By the ideals of business, the business owner must take care of the customer by listening to the complaint, and resolving it, to ensure a happy customer. Fewer than half of unhappy customers will bring a complaint to your attention. Those who never say anything will tell an average of 11-15 other people about their bad experience. It is thus important that complaints are recognized as opportunities for growth.

A sensitive and constructive criticism should necessarily follow every positive compliment on the services or products of a business, company or brand. This is because the customers want to know someone is listening and they are understood, and they are hoping you are willing to take care of the problem to their satisfaction. This is why many companies have a Customer Service or Customer Care Department or centre as the case may be.

The improper handling of a customer complaint can be costly to the business. This is why research has proven a few strategies to address customer complaints to help you retain your customers, gain referrals and maximise profit.

1. Follow Up calls: A quick follow-up phone call a few days later to make sure everything is OK with the product or service they have purchased is a good start.

In the case that the customer did not enjoy the service or has a few issues with the product, a proper and corporate apology can pull a legendary stunt there. In apology, you can mention that you would render a discount on subsequent purchase or upgrade the purchase with a small gift from your product or service.

2. Be Reserved. Your Customer is ”always” right.

When a customer presents a complaint, keep in mind that the issue is not personal; he or she is not attacking you directly but rather the situation at hand. “Winning” the confrontation accomplishes nothing. A person  in control of his or her emotions deals from a position of strength. While it is perfectly natural to get defensive when attacked, choose to be the “professional” and keep your cool.

Listen to the customer’s report and while the customer vents and sees you are not reacting (but instead calming him down with soothing words like ”I’m sorry about…”) he or she will begin to calm down. The customer needs to get into a calm frame of mind before he or she can hear your solution to the disservice rendered.

3. Get the facts

While listening, note the facts your customer has mentioned. Be careful not to speak scripted replies, but build a genuine conversation and a trusting relationship with your customer. To help you understand the situation, get as many details as possible.

4. Acknowledge the problem

You can let the customer know you hear what he or she is saying. If you or your company made a mistake, admit it. If you did not make a mistake and it is a misunderstanding, simply explain it to the customer: “I can see how that would be incredibly frustrating for you.”  Doing this, you are not necessarily agreeing with what the customer is saying, but respecting how he or she perceives and feels about the situation.

5. Offer a solution

After you have gathered sufficient details, offer a solution, knowing in mind that you can only do so within your company’s guidelines. Making a promise you cannot commit to will only set you back.

Remember, when offering a solution, be courteous and respectful. Let the customer know you are willing to take ownership of the issue, even if it was out of your control. Take charge of the situation and let the customer know what you are going to do to solve the problem.

These are not mere tips to raise the bar in customer care servicing, they are point bags to retaining customers and to succeed the ultimate goal of making profit in business. As such, if words would coin themselves, we would say ”A happy customer practically translates to a thriving business”

Abayomi Adeola (Della)

Abayomi Adeola Della is a Law Student in Obafemi Awolowo University. Author of two books, Entrepreneur, Business strategist/analyst, Leader and Blogger. She's passionate about business building and economic growth. Her best food is beans.

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