Complaints happen every day. When a customer complains, it is usually for a good reason or genuine concern. They usually have made a purchase that did not meet their expectation a product, service, or maybe a combination of the two.
In the customer service industry, we cannot avoid complaints. We 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 6 other people about their bad experience. 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
Here are five strategies that will help you handle a customer complaint in a smooth and professional manner:
- Stay calm:When a customer presents you with 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. A person who remains in control of his or her emotions deals from a position of strength. Choose to be the “professional” and keep your cool.
- Listen attentively: Let the irate customer blow off steam, do not interrupt. As the customer vents and sees you are not reacting, 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 or anything you say, for that matter.
- Acknowledge the problem: 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.” You are not necessarily agreeing with what the customer is saying, but respecting how he or she perceives and feels about the situation. An excellent phrase for opening up this particular conversation would be, “So, if I understand you correctly…” By repeating to the customer what you think you heard, you lower his or her defenses, and win the right to be heard.
- Get the facts:After listening, take the initiative in the conversation. Now that the customer has calmed down and feels you have heard his or her side, begin asking questions. Be careful not to speak scripted replies, but use this as an opportunity to start a genuine conversation, building a trusting relationship with your customer. To help you understand the situation, get as many details as possible.
- Offer a solution:This happens only after you have sufficient details. One thing to keep in mind, know what you can and cannot do 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.
Credit: Lorri Freifeld
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