So without further ado and before you start to complain that this article is slightly dragging out the point, we’ll move on and start firstly with a reassurance...
Whether you agree with their complaint or not, you need to make sure that your customer, or prospective customer is reassured that you are taking their complaint seriously. If there is a chain of command or a process that you have to go through - explain the process to your customer and make them feel that whatever the outcome, you will respond to their complaint or concern and that there is a clear process you are going to go through. Use language that is calming and don’t feel that you necessarily have to apologise without first working out the issue. If you have a reason to take full responsibility, do apologise or say sorry that this is the impression the customer has got, sorry about the inconvenience they are facing or have faced and of course sorry that they feel that way. Whilst not fully saying ‘sorry’ this is a good initial and often reassuring tactic.
Solve the problem
It’s great that you have tried to reassure your customer and whether you think they are barking mad or not, the reality is that their problem (and therefore your problem) is not likely to go away. In Part 1 of Tips on dealing with Customer Complaints we advised that you should not try to just ignore the problem and that is a great starting point. However just responding back and then not trying to solve the problem can be just as bad. In a way this is like giving ‘lip service’ to their complaint. Solving the problem means trying to work out what they the customer actually wants and asking them what they want! If they are being unrealistic in their complaint that can be tough, but a good approach might be to offer little at the start, but to promise to respond and then to come back to the table with what you think is a solution and a fair offer. Often this approach will show that you are going out of your way to help and in this way both parties will go away happy with the outcome.
Learn from it
Whether this is a one-off complaint or a regular customer issue - the reality is that unless you learn from it the complaint will re-occur. What part of the issue or the problem, can you try and rectify now so that it doesn’t happen again? What internal processes can you change? Don’t just try and rectify the problem each time it happens, instead try and build a better process / product / service in the first place so it cannot return again.
Gain value from it
Using a complaint to your advantage, may seem initially unrealistic, but when you successfully ‘fight the fire’, quite often or not, the customer can become your biggest supporter. If you clearly demonstrate that they, the customer are taken seriously, they are more likely to promote you and your organisation. After all, most people don’t like complaining but they do like good service - so use a complaint as a way to reconnect with your wider audience and customer base. Also continuing the fire analogy - the longer the flame burns, the bigger the flame gets, and the more likely your customer is likely to get burnt from the experience. Put the flame out and also help to repair the damage and you might, just might be perceived as the hero!
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