Recently, when consulting for a new client, they mentioned that they were concerned that their teammates were not handling telephone complaints well. They said that their goal was to eliminate complaints. I had to stop them and explain that a complaint is a gift!
The first edition of the book A Complaint Is a Gift, written by friend and fellow speaker Janelle Barlow, introduced a revolutionary notion: customer complaints are a valuable feedback mechanism that can help organizations rapidly and inexpensively strengthen products, service style, and market focus. In fact, they’re the best bargain around in market research.
So, what is a complaint? I define it as:
“An expression of dissatisfaction made to an organization,
regarding its products or services, or the complaints-handling
process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.”
Here are 8 things you must keep in mind when handling a customer complaint:
- If you don’t know the answer to the problem don’t lie! Tell them you will find out and get back to them and then make sure you get back to them.
- Call back when you say you will even if you don’t have a satisfactory resolution for them
- Make the customer part of the solution NOT the problem
- Don’t take criticism personally
- Be composed at all times. If you get angry, it only makes your job harder
- Show empathy and use words like, “I understand how you feel…” or “I can certainly see your perspective…” but don’t be condescending
- Tell them what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do
- Find out right away what will turn their dissatisfaction into satisfaction
Remember, studies show that it takes 12 positive touches after a complaint before the customer fully trusts you or the organization again. Reach out to your complainers. Check on them regularly and offer them incentives to do business with you again.
Only 4% of dissatisfied customers complain. That means that 96% leave without any communication to your business. Make sure your whole organization buys into the idea that “WE LOVE COMPLAINTS”!