Top 10 Ways to Address Customer Complaints

customer service

Donald Rumsfeld once said, “If you try to please everybody, somebody’s not going to like it.”

Try as you may, not every unhappy, upset customer can be appeased or pleased with your mighty efforts to win them over. But, no matter how long your store has been in business, one thing is clear about customer service.: If you don’t handle these situations promptly and professionally, you risk alienating customers and losing them completely.

In order to salvage customer relationships with dissatisfied customers, here are ten ways to diffuse bad situations and maintain their loyalty.

Face the Situation Head On

The first instinct for most employees or new store owners when unhappy customers begin to complain and show frustration may be to avoid conflict altogether. Not many people choose to tackle an uncomfortable situation head on, but that’s exactly what you should do.

The longer you delay addressing what the problem is, the more upset your customer may become. By not responding promptly, that customer may believe you really don’t care about his problem. It’s best to address awkward, confrontational situations upfront before the customer has time to become even more dissatisfied, disappointed or angry.

Thank Them for Complaining

Consider your new store lucky that a customer is prepared to face you and tell you what their issue is instead of walking away and never coming back.

Consider complaining a gift and include “thank you” in your response. By bringing their specific issue to your attention, you have the opportunity to salvage your relationship with them and incorporate preventative measures to avoid similar customer complaints in the future.

Apologize for the Problem

Let the angry customer know right away you are truly sorry the problem has occurred. Now, that is not the same thing as admitting you were at fault. Always apologize for any issues own your part – because this is basic customer service.

Reverse Roles

When a customer chooses to unleash his or her negative feelings on you, put yourself in their position. Imagine how you would feel if the same thing had happened to you.

When you have more empathy for the customer, you will be able to find a solution more quickly.

Learn Something

No matter how the customer left your store, learn something from the experience that will help improve your reaction the next time. Train your employees how to rebound from a disgruntled customer and pass along what you learned from the experience.

Don’t Give Them a Reason to Complain

If you would like to minimize complaints drastically, focus on creating a culture of improvement in all of your stores. Check customer satisfaction surveys and the quality of your products and services. If 75% of people who purchased one certain item ended up unhappy, figure out what the bottom line is. Conduct quality checks and listen to customer feedback. Promptly discontinue items with high dissatisfaction rates.

Gather the Facts

Ask an unhappy customer a lot of questions. Gather the facts promptly and let the customer know you would like to have all of the information you can. With the right facts, you’ll fully understand their situation and can present them with the best solution.

Be Understanding

Believe from the beginning the customer has a valid reason to be upset, and their goal is not to rip you off. Sure, there are many unhappy people that just can’t be satisfied, but they are in the minority. Accept their perspective – it will help you create a reasonable solution.

Rely on Staff

If your new store has a great staff, chances are, they care about your business and about doing a good job as an employee. They are also often on the firing lines and know what customers believe. Ask your employees their views regularly and adjust when their opinions request change. Be sure to also handle internal employee complaints promptly and professionally.

Lead by Example

It may not seem like your staff always listens to your direction or is interested in what you say. If you want to make sure your employees do perk up when you have something to say, be sure you are an example they want to follow. Put complaints from customers and employees at the top of your priority list and offer solutions that satisfy.

Maximize your strategy for addressing complaints by following up with disappointed customers in a few days and ask if the issue has been resolved satisfactorily. It is crucial not to skip this step. Following up builds brand confidence and instills greater satisfaction – satisfaction that may convert a dissatisfied shopper into a consistent customer.

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Scott Kuhn

About Scott Kuhn

Scott is CEO of Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. He has been helping companies plan and execute store grand openings and remodels for more than 20 years.

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