Every 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. It is a very good thing. However, at some point you will encounter a customer (or two) that will have a compliant about your business.
The way in which a business owner handles these uncomfortable situations can have an enormous effect on the success, or failure, of the business. Many times, the customer’s complaint is completely legitimate. At times however, an owner may not think the complaint is valid. Regardless of how an owner views the complaint, if you want that customer to remain a customer, the owner must listen to the complaint and understand how to handle it.
Businesses spend tons of money on marketing campaigns to land customers yet do so little to keep the customers. Therefore, it is foolish to let your business’ customer service cost you the customers you work so hard to attract. Especially since following these few simple steps can allow your business to turn a customer complaint into a long-term positive for your business.
Employees might be faced with various kinds of customers. From the friendly woman giving pointers on how to do your job better to the grumpy man erupting with rage, the best thing you and your employees can do is remain calm.
It is not easy to keep your emotions in check when you have a person yelling at you over their dissatisfaction. Even if the situation is out of your control, it is best to remain calm. Once you succumb to the same level of annoyance the customer is displaying, there is very little chance the customer relationship can be salvaged.
Give it your best attempt to not react emotionally and truly listen to the position of that customer. In many cases, all the customer really wants is to be heard. Active listening to the customer complaints will dramatically improve the chances of keeping that customer (or at least, minimizing the damage this customer can cause your business).
If 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.
We all know that is not the case. The customer is not always right, but if your business is dealing with a complaining customer, it is best not to challenge them. Not only is this an unprofessional reaction, it can only aggravate the customer further. No owner wants to draw out an unwanted situation and make things worse for the business.
Not 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 reestablish a bond. Show them that your business is different than all the others because you actually care about their feelings and that you want to help find them a solution.
Showing the customer that you care about their feelings is an empty gesture without following 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 customer problem.
After 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. People 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.