When you receive a customer complaint, recognize it for the good news it is. I know, you want your customers to be happy. You may even take complaints personally and be upset or offended when a customer expresses dissatisfaction. However, if you recognize complaints as the opportunities they are, you can move your business forward.
Complaints can identify problems in your business. Customers who let you know about them are doing you a favor. It is only when you are aware of a problem that you can identify the cause and fix it. After all, wouldn’t you prefer they tell you about it instead of complaining about your company to all of their friends? That is not the kind of word of mouth you want.
Is the customer always right? No. Sometimes customers are demanding and unreasonable. Fortunately, those people are few and far between. Do what is reasonable to resolve the situations, then move on and don’t worry about losing these customers.
Most customers just want what they were promised. If you made a mistake, or they received a defective product, make it right. Do not underestimate the power of an apology. Simply saying, “I’m sorry this happened. Let me take care of this for you,” can go a long way toward improving your relationship with that customer. Then, repair the situation and learn from the complaint to avoid future problems.
Listen to the customer. Let him define the problem and tell you what he wants. It may be simple to fulfill expectations.
Never criticize a customer or minimize their concerns by saying things such as, “No one else seems to have a problem with this,” or, “Most customers like that feature.”
Perhaps the customer complaint (or a pattern of customer complaints) reveals a problem with the design of a product. Or many customers are receiving items broken in transit. That could mean a problem with the product itself, the packaging, or the delivery service.
Some complaints may be the fault of your marketing. The sales copy may set up unrealistic expectations, or sales staff may make promises that can not be kept, and customers are disappointed with the product or service they receive.
Other complaints may be the result of the customer not understanding what the product or service is supposed to do, or how to use it. Do you include understandable instructions your customer can use, including troubleshooting suggestions for when they encounter a problem?
Offer a solution that makes the customer whole. That might be repairing or replacing a product or re-doing a service. You might even want to give the customer something extra to make up for any inconvenience or loss they experienced as a result of the problem.
If there are obstacles to resolving customer complaints, such as arbitrary rules and policies, get rid of them. Give your staff the authority to resolve most routine problems as they see fit.
If you handle complaints properly, your unhappy customer can become a happy lifetime customer.