Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021 🎉
This new year, what is the focus of your business? I just want to discuss one aspect in your small business that you can improve to thrive better in the business world this year.
That aspect is CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS!
Sometimes it feels like your customers were created to complain… but, if you are a brand or business owner that thinks like this then you need to change your thinking. Customers complain mostly when they have a reason to, maybe the product or service was less than the value they paid for it, or the order was messed up for one reason or other concerns.
In any case, you should not shy away from customer complaints; in fact, you should expect those situations and use them as a learning point on how to make your brand more customer-centric and avoid more complaints in the future.auntyronke
Customers who have complaints that are not addressed may call you out on social media as is very rampant these days and this can negatively affect your brand’s reputation. There is also the class of customers that will never come out to complain but will convince anyone who wants to buy from you not to, making you lose customers without even realizing.
It is therefore very important that you influence such processes by being as responsive as you can to your customers. Handling the situation well will help customers perceive your brand as one that actually cares and this will attract even more customers to you.
Here are the 9 best ways to handle your customers’ complaints to not only benefit your business but ensure that you don’t lose that customer :
1. Remain quiet and actually listen as your customer complains –
The mistake a lot of small business owners make is constantly interjecting as a customer complains – even if you mean well, this can rub off wrongly on the customer who might feel like you’re being on the defensive.
Even when your customer does not present their case in the best possible way, it is very important for you to maintain your cool and resist the urge to lash out at your customer. A venting customer will instantly calm down once you are not reacting like they expect you to and this will make them listen to you when you finally speak up.
Actively listen too because your customer may be complaining about one thing but actually mean another thing. Listening carefully will give your customer the feeling of importance and also help you to correctly diagnose the situation correctly and handle it properly.
2. Recognize and confirm what the actual issue is –
After listening to your customer complain, you already have an idea of what the issue is. Make sure to confirm what it is based on your understanding and ask your customer if what you have said is correct. A good way to start is, “From what I understand, you are saying that the good you received on this date arrived damaged…” and then let them confirm if that is their grievance.
Doing this will eliminate any untruths and centre the problem so it can easily be worked on. However, be careful not to sound like a robot reading a scripted response because customers will see through that.
3. Apologize even while apportioning blame to the rightful owners –
Whether or not the fault came from you, you must apologize for the inconvenience that the customer had to go through. However, you should let the customer know the cause of his/her dissatisfaction – whether it is the dispatch rider, delivery company or even you.
Pass blame in a way that shows you still take full responsibility for what has happened. This will bring down customers’ defenses even more and make them more willing to hear you out.
4. Offer a realistic solution –
Sometimes, you might be tempted to promise your customer what you cannot fulfill just to make them feel “happy” again with your brand. This will not benefit you in the long run. Instead, ask them what they would like to be done to solve the issue so you take their opinion into consideration and tell them what is achievable and what is not.
If you do not have an immediate solution to the complaint, communicate this to your customer and give them a timeframe of when you will get back to them. Do not lie to your customers.
5. Keep up the communication even as you resolve the complaint –
It is one thing to resolve a complaint and another thing for your customer to know that their complaint is actively being worked on.
No customer likes to be left in the dark which is why it is important for you to give your customer updates as the issue is being resolved, Non communication can be translated by the customer to mean unresponsiveness and that kills their trust in your brand.
6. Remove your feelings from the equation –
This happens when the customer is perceived as being “rude” or “uncouth.” It could be a random stranger entering your DM and telling you how to run your business better or a disappointed customer using insultive words on you as they convey their grievances.
You will be tempted to react in the same manner or even worse but if you take your emotions out of the situation then you will handle the situation better. This is because you will be able to see above the rudeness and insults to the real culprit which is simply a hurt and disappointed customer who got less than they bargained for in terms of product or service delivery.
7. Do NOT challenge your customers –
A lot of times, your customers might actually misconstrue facts to make the situation more aggravated or just to take advantage of you. In this case, even when you know that they are lying, it would be very unwise to challenge them as that will lead to an even more annoyed customer.
A better approach is to repeat what they have said and confirm from them if that is their account of what happened. Then you can gather your facts and show it to them, proving them wrong with hard evidence even as you take responsibility still for the inconvenience.
8. You must be willing to be flexible –
Even after all these, you might reach a conclusion or offer a solution that your customer does not agree with. What you should do is consider what is at stake and if a compromise can be made.
Even if not, let your customers know that you have run out of options and not that you were not willing to resolve their issues.
9. Know the kind of customer you are dealing with –
There are different kinds of customers who you might get to see in your inbox, from the angry ones to the meek ones who just want a solution to their complaint without bringing the Heavens down.
Each class of customer has a method to which they should be handled and this is tied to quickly identify what kind of customer is complaining so you can respond appropriately. You would not respond to a high end customer the same way you will respond to an average customer and that is facts.
No matter what you do…
make sure never to give false guarantees, it will hurt your brand in the long run. Utilise these tips and watch your rate of complaints reduce even as you work to tackle the issues that are constantly complained about. Even if a customer remains angry after, they will have no choice but to praise your skillful handling of their complaints – though they might not admit it.
How do you handle your customers’ complaints? Let’s talk in the comments!
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