By Tim Parmeter on April 05, 2018Every business owner oozes confidence in their ability to run their business. You have faith in your business, your employees, and your customers and that’s a good thing – a very good thing. However, at some point, you'll encounter a customer that will have a complaint about your business, products, or services. So, how do you handle this situation?
The way a business owner handles these uncomfortable situations can have an enormous effect on the success, or failure, of the business. Often times, the customer’s complaint is completely legitimate but the owner may not think so. Regardless of how the owner views this, it's important to listen to the complaint and understand how to handle it, especially if you want to retain that customer.Businesses spend tons of money on marketing campaigns to gain customers yet do so little to keep them.
Therefore, it's foolish to let your business’ customer service cost you the customers you've worked so hard to attract. We've outlined 6 simple steps you can take to turn a customer complaint into a long-term positive for your business.
1. Don’t React EmotionallyEmployees encounter all kinds of customers, from the friendly woman who gives pointers on how you should do your job, to the grumpy man erupting with rage. The best thing you and your employees can do is to remain calm.
It's not easy to keep your emotions in check when you have a person yelling at you because of their dissatisfaction. Even if the situation is out of your control, you must remain calm. Lowering yourself to the same level of annoyance that customer is displaying will only result in a failed conversation, and then there's very little chance of the customer relationship being salvaged.
Truly listen to what the customer has to say. In many cases, all that person may want from you is to simply be heard. Doing this can also dramatically improve your chances of retaining that customer, or at least minimizing the damage he or she can cause to your business.
2. Acknowledge the ProblemIf your business made an actual mistake, admit to it and take full responsibility. This will show the customer that you are in fact listening and care about them. Listening, caring, and showing empathy are now so rare with customer service that what starts out as a complaint could potentially actually strengthen the relationship with that customer if handled properly.
3. Remember That the Customer is Sometimes RightWe all know that the customer is not always truly right in every case. However, if you're dealing with a customer complaint, it's in your best interest not to challenge them. Not only is this an unprofessional reaction, but it can also aggravate the customer even further. No owner wants to extend an unwanted situation and make things worse for the business.
4. Kill Them with KindnessNot all customers react in a desirable way. Flash them those pearly whites and thank them for bringing their concern to your attention. Not only will this calm the customer down, but it will help re-establish a bond. Show them that your business is different than all the others and that you actually care about their feelings and want to help find them a solution.
5. Offer A SolutionShowing the customer that you care about their feelings is an empty gesture without a follow through. As a business owner you must have a process in place for handling customer complaints. Teach your employees how to handle various situations and what the protocol is. If an employee is unable to offer a solution to a customer, make sure they know who can find a solution to the problem.
6. Follow UpAfter the customer has been provided with a solution, be sure to follow up in a timely fashion to ensure they are happy with the solution provided. This simple, extra step can really show how your customer service sets your business apart. In today’s world, there are many outlets for a customer to complain. Customers do not have to walk into your business and complain face to face. They can reach out via a variety of social media outlets, they can call or email customer service, or even worse they can leave comments on review sites like Yelp and Google.
Make sure your business is aware of all the scenarios in which a customer can damage the business’ reputation online. This awareness allows your business to immediately act on all customer complaints, no matter how small they may seem.
Once the situation has been rectified, it can be easy for you and your employees to move on or simply dismiss the validity of the complaint. However, be aware of any teaching points that arise from the customer complaint. Perhaps a training opportunity can come from these situations or it could result in a change in company policy – especially if similar complaints have occurred.
No business owner wakes up hoping they can deal with a customer complaint. The reality is, they will happen. How you as an owner are prepared for them, react to them, and learn from them can make or break your business.