In the world of business, facing customer complaints is an inevitable reality. No matter how hard you try to provide an unbeatable service, it is near impossible to keep everybody happy all of the time. It won’t be uncommon for those negative reviews to strike an element of irritation, but the way in which you handle these reviews can make all the difference between keeping a customer, and losing one. In this blog, we explore the ways in which you can handle negative reviews positively, and why it is crucial for your success to do so.
How to handle a customer complaint
There are 7 steps in which you should take when handing a complaint. Think of these steps as a checklist every time you encounter one to ensure you handle the complaint to the best of your ability, providing the greatest opportunity post-resolution.
- Stay calm and listen
Often, customers with complaints could act with irritation or anger. It is important that in response, you don’t meet their attitude, but instead stay calm and listen to what it is they have to say. Talking over them or responding too soon can result in them feeling unheard, which could in turn only worsen the complaint. Remember, stay calm, kind and courteous.
- Acknowledge the issue at hand
Once the customer has run through their complaint, take the time to calmly repeat it back to them. This will ensure that you have got the right end of the stick, and will reassure them that you are aware of the problem they have experienced.
- Use your manners
You might not feel like it is needed, or in fact even want to give it but an apology at this stage will never go unnoticed by the customer. Thanking them for sharing their concerns and experiences with you will also prove beneficial to you and your business.
- Retrieve the facts
Take this time to ask any relevant questions you need to about their complaint. Whilst they have calmed down and you have shared your sympathies, you may be able to draw out additional pieces of information on the topic that had been missed or sped through. These pieces could be important, so take your time here and try not to feel pressured. Reassure the customer that the questions asked are all for their benefit to ensure that you are able to meet the best suited outcome.
- Is there a solution?
There may not always be a solution, and so you should always be honest. Never promise something which cannot be achieved. If there is a solution, try to work quickly. Alternatively, keep the customer updated throughout the process so that they don’t feel forgotten or left behind.
- Document the complaint and outcome
Making a formal note of the complaint and outcome will allow you to bring them up in future meetings, as well as advising the team on the process. You may be able to identify things that worked well, or not so well, and sharpen your process even further going forward.
- Follow up
This step is optional, but can be beneficial. Following up after a solution has been provided can embed trust in the customer that you care about both their opinions and satisfaction.
The importance of handling customer complaints
There is truth in it – handling negative reviews the right way really could benefit you as a business. According to research carried out by Esteban Kolsky, typically only 1 in 26 customers will complain, whilst the rest stay quiet. Whilst they may leave your services in silence, you could switch your outlook to take each customer with a complaint with a hint of gratitude. Without being shown where there is room for improvement, your business will fail to rise over time. Being able to improve your services in areas where there is room will allow you to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Responding and reacting to these complaints in a positive way, accompanied by a service change or even consideration, will allow you to form bonds with those once irritated customers, resulting in them relaxing in your care, and trusting in your responsive and reliable business. Displaying a greater care for your customers rather than your profits will benefit you in many ways, from positive reviews to an increased number of customers, which of course will have a positive impact on your profits after all.
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