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Complaints happen to even the best of companies. No matter how much energy you spend on pleasing your customers, mistakes happen that directly impact a serve. Whether it’s miscommunication, extenuating circumstances, or a technical glitch, client complaints are inevitable. But they don’t have to leave a crater in your business. In fact, with the right attitude and response, even the worst feedback can be turned into an opportunity for your company to grow. The question is, how?
Below are some tips to help you handle complaints in a way that is effective and beneficial to your business.
You might feel tempted to respond out of anger or frustration, but this is never a good idea. Breathe deep and calm yourself as much as possible before responding in any way. Keep in mind that the issue is not personal. When a customer complains, it’s about their situation and professional expectations, not about you personally. Also, being “right” or “winning” should never be your goal. Your goal is to salvage the situation in a way that satisfies both the customer and your company.
Before you respond, attentively read or listen to the customer’s complaint without creating excuses or interrupting. Not only does this show them respect, it also allows you to get as many details as possible so as to better address the issue. Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure that the client feels heard and acknowledged before you attempt any sort of response.
First, acknowledge their experience and try to relate to them as much as possible. If you are speaking in person, phrases like, “I can see how that would be frustrating for you” or “I understand why you feel that way” expresses respect for what they’re going through. Remember to not be aggressively cheery or pleasant, though, as that may seem callous. Show their situation genuine care and attention that’s not scripted or passive aggressive. When discussing the problem, repeat back to them what they’re asking for in order to make them feel heard and also make communication as clear as possible. If the fault lies with you or your company, own the mistake and make amends to rectify the issue. Otherwise, calmly and clearly explain the situation and their misunderstanding if the responsibility does not lie with your company. It’s important to be kind but not overly submissive. If the issue cannot be easily resolved, be honest. Also, no complaint ever justifies a customer treating you, your coworkers, or your employees with disrespect.
If you are responding to a written complaint or a negative review, take the time to research their account and view the validity of their claim. By gathering the details, you will be able to make an informed and reasonable response. We recommend replying to all online reviews, whether good or bad, to show that you care for your customer and their feedback. Keep in mind that these responses are public and should maintain a high level of professionalism and respect. Thank the positive reviews, and offer insight or mitigating steps for negative reviews.
If you disagree with a complaint or online review that is blatantly false, it is worthwhile to share your point of view and ask for feedback for how communication can be improved in the future. If it important to stand up for your company’s reputation if a complaint’s aim is to solely disparage your company.
Once you fully understand the issue and how the client expects it to be resolved, take ownership of the problem or calmly, respectfully, and professionally disagree. You answers will vary depending on the situation, but there is never any reason for aggression and blame. Instead, make amends and explain to the customer the company’s professional point of view and how you plan to resolve their complaint. To do this, it’s important to know what you can and cannot do based on your company’s standards. Don’t make false promises just to make an irate customer temporarily happy. But do work your hardest to solve the problem quickly and effectively.
To make sure the problem is fully resolved, contact the customer personally a few days later to check in. Be aware that they may ask for a refund and be ready to respond appropriately according to your company’s policy and the situation at hand.
Even complaints made in anger can contain insight that can help you improve your business and processes. Don’t write off a customer because they’re upset or don’t understand your processes. Their problems may shed light on a larger issue that you might not see otherwise. Feedback can also be organized in a way that identifies trends or common complaints.
No matter the company, it’s good to have a plan in place for when you inevitably receive customer complaints. This way you’re prepared and don’t react in haste. But, in the end, you also shouldn’t dwell too much on complaints. While they can give you insights on ways to improve your business, they can also bruise your ego and interrupt your ability to accomplish future serves. Learn what you can from negative feedback and move on to running your business in a way that makes you and your customers proud.
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