Crucial steps for effectively dealing with customer complaints

7th May 2019

It’s never pleasant to be on the receiving end of a customer complaint – and even just one disgruntled customer can have an adverse ripple effect on a business. Just imagine that customer telling friends or, worse, the world – through an online review – about their bad experience.

Therefore, when you do receive a complaint, how you handle it can help you to minimise the damage and keep the customer on side. Here are some basic steps to take yourself through…

Listen to the customer and understand them

Remember the mantra “the customer is always right”? It’s worth heeding that as you allow the customer to tell their side of the story before you act on any temptation to interject.

As Lifehack explains, while some unhappy customers could have unrealistic expectations or simply be prone to griping, other complainants could have a genuine issue that warrants your attention. A customer is bound to feel frustrated if they don’t feel their words are even getting through to you.

Show your empathydealing with customer complaints

Once the customer has finished telling their story, you should quickly and openly emphasise with them. This means showing not only that you have heard their issue, but also that you will work towards resolving it with their help. Doing this can form a bond between the two of you.

At this stage, you could heed Forbes‘ advice that you express your sincere gratitude for the person’s decision to share their grievance. Thanking them could give you yet more words of theirs to listen to.

Offer a remedy

What does the customer want you to do to make amends? They might have already told you. If they haven’t, ask them. You could be pleasantly surprised to see that they request less than you had initially anticipated being necessary, as can happen if the other party deems your words sincere.

If you can’t provide exactly what the complainant wants, offer an alternative solution. Inc. advises that, in this respect, you “always focus on what you can do as opposed to what you cannot.”

Enact the solution as soon as possible

Whether the solution is what the customer originally sought, or an alternative remedy of your suggestion, you should endeavour to put that solution into action as a matter of urgency.

Often, an unhappy customer will be emotionally buoyed more by the speed with which you act to provide the solution than by the solution itself.

Follow up with the customer later

Once the solution has been enacted, the customer won’t want to feel that as soon as they are out of your sight, they are out of your mind as well. For this reason, get back in touch with the customer at a later point – 24 to 48 hours after the initial complaint is a good window – to verify their satisfaction.

Even doing this with an overseas customers doesn’t have to be costly, given our provision of cheap international calls for business, so remember to ask the customer for their phone number beforehand.