Do you struggle with knowing how to respond to customer complaints? A negative review or an angry email is enough to make anyone’s blood pressure surge. But it’s especially hard when it’s your own business that you’ve worked years to create and grow.
Our first response to a complaint is usually defensiveness. After all, we are typically trying our best to serve our customers well! But a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t trying hard enough. It might just mean there are some processes or procedures that need to be revamped. Consider this an opportunity to make your business better, if needed. If no changes are needed, your goal is to turn a negative situation around.
➡️ Related: Why Online Customer Reviews Matter
How to Deal With Customer Complaints
1. Listen to the customer
Statistics show that only 1/26 dissatisfied customers will actually complain. This shows us that if they’re taking the time to reach out, it’s really important to them. Listen well. Listening and lending a sympathetic ear will go a long way in diffusing the frustration. If you listen patiently without making excuses, this will help clear out some of the client’s initial emotions and give you a better opportunity to resolve the issue together.
Sometimes it may feel like an apology is not really in order. Maybe it was truly a “user error.” Apologizing doesn’t necessarily mean you agree that you messed up. If that’s the case, yes, it’s really hard to do! But saying something simple like, “I’m sorry this happened,” will make your client feel heard instantly. If you need to make an apology for something that was your error, here is some help!
3. Thank them
Really? Thank your client for complaining? That’s probably the last thing you feel like doing at the moment. Instead of thanking them for complaining, consider it “thanking a client for their feedback,” or, “for bringing it to your attention.” Once again the goal is to show that you care about how your client feels and that you don’t want anyone else to feel like this.
4. Find a solution
Sometimes listening and apologizing is enough. But if the complaint is legitimate, what do you need to do to make it right? Refund a fee? Throw in a free extra? This is where you’re going to have to use common sense and discernment. The wrong offer will come across as offensive.
Another way to make the situation right, regardless of what happened, is to follow up later on. A personal call or note checking in on your client will make a huge difference.
5. Prevent the issue for the future
After taking a closer look at the scenario which led to the complaint, it’s time to ask yourself if this was a one-off event or a recurring problem. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I ever received this complaint before?
- If so, when and how often?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent this situation from arising again?
Sometimes the solution is as simple as adding clarity to your quoting process or providing your customer with answers to frequently asked questions upfront.
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