Even the most customer-centric company has experienced times when one of their customers becomes dissatisfied. How you handle complaints can make or break your reputation and affect your brand.
Today’s digital world gives your customers a lot of power. One post can sour other potential customers from engaging with you, so it becomes even more important today to act quickly to resolve any complaints.
Keep in mind that your clients only complain about what they care about, so you can look at negative feedback as a gift to really understand your client. If you don’t have an avenue for your customers to give feedback, some of them will never tell you until they have gone elsewhere with their business.
I have found a step-by-step process helps diffuse the heat of a negative customer experience.
- First, thank them for telling you. “I appreciate your feedback.”
- Validate their feelings. “I hear you say that this has been a bad experience for you.” Repeat their complaint and take notes, so they know you are giving this your full attention.
- Apologize. Don’t admit blame or throw your colleagues under the bus, just let them know their feedback is important for how you want to operate as a company. “I’m sorry for your bad experience.”
- Take action. Don’t dwell on how the problem happened, as this is seen as excusing the behavior. Convey your confidence that “we,” as a company will resolve this issue with an action plan. Get your customer’s agreement on what you propose to do. Ask them, “Does this action plan make sense?”
- Take responsibility. Honor any promises you have made to your customer. Follow up to ensure the plan is working well from their point of view.
Most often, the issue you are having is due to the customer feeling that their expectations are not being met. Researchers have suggested that our brains really detest unanticipated outcomes. If you build in a process for setting the expectations up front, this may mitigate hard feelings in the future.
For example, customers often feel they shouldn’t have to pay for project management. By setting the right expectations during the sales cycle, you can eliminate discussions about what they are being charged for. Project Management is an integral part of the implementation and drives the success of the project so, for us as a company, it is non-negotiable.
Ultimately, you are in business because of your customers. Respecting their opinions, yet coming up with a plan that is fair to both parties will ensure that you remain profitable, and are there to support them in the future.
What strategies do you have when dealing with customer complaints? Please continue the conversation and share in the comments below.