At some point, everyone in business has to deal with an upset customer. Whether you’re a large company or small business, you’re likely to have to deal with a client complaint. Dealing with customer complaints effectively can improve customer retention and help your company gain a reputation for providing good service. Although lots of customers don’t even bother to complain. They simply leave and buy from your competitors. Research suggests up to 80% of customers who leave were in fact “satisfied” with the original company. Obviously “customer satisfaction” is not enough. You need to positively delight customers if you want to earn their loyalty. Executives, managers, and employees involved in customer service should handle customer complaints with the following keys in mind.
Listen carefully to what the customer has to say, and let them finish and don’t get defensive. Try and be open-minded and understanding about the situation. Write down anything you feel is important and ask questions. Once you receive a complaint, don’t leave it. Reply to the letter, email, phone call, blog post or tweet as soon as possible, no matter how outrageous you might think it is.
Next apologize without pointing the blame. When a customer senses that you are sincerely sorry, it usually diffuses the situation. Don’t blame another person or department. Just say, “I’m sorry about that.” Regardless of your opinion, offering some form of apology can help. While in some cases it may not be legally advisable to apologise, you can still say ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’, ‘I’m sorry that wasn’t our intention’, or ‘I am sorry for your inconvenience’. This shows your sympathy and may help to calm the situation. Once you have explained what you are going to do to resolve the customer’s problem, do it. Follow it through and ensure that what you promised is delivered. Hopefully, by this point, you will have a happy customer who will return to your company, not to mention a happy agent whose days are a little less stressful!
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