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Customer Complaints: How To Deal With Them Effectively

Two trainee gas engineers taking notes as they service a boiler

Whether you’re an owner, self-employed, sub-contractor or employed, customer complaints are part and parcel of business and working life.

Initially, any complaint can feel like the end of the world. A customer isn’t happy with the service you’ve provided, and should they share that complaint with friends and family, there is the worry it could reduce business in the future. But that needn’t be the case. There are ways of turning negatives into positives.

According to research, 9/10 customers will continue to do business with you/your company even if things don’t go perfectly. This is providing any complaints are dealt with efficiently, and a solution is found and carried out.

So what is the best way to deal with customer complaints effectively?

Don’t Take It Personally

When a customer complains about the work or service provided, it can be difficult not to take it personally. Our instinct would have us argue our case and prove that what we have done is correct. And ultimately, that the complaint is unnecessary.

While this may be good for our egos, it’s not going to do anything to solve the issue. So in this scenario, put emotions aside. The best thing to do is to stay calm and remain professional.

Listen

The customer feels there is a need to make a complaint, and you must take the time to listen and understand. If they are particularly angry, allow them to vent and don’t interrupt them. The fact that you’ve allowed them to get it off their chest already shows your willingness to accept and resolve the matter. The customer will most likely work with you to deal with the issue.

Acknowledge The Issue

If you believe you or your company are at fault after listening to their complaint, admit it and proceed with the process.

However, if you don’t believe the complaint is valid, don’t challenge it or refuse help. Instead, express that you understand how the customer feels and respect their point of view. While you disagree with them, phrases such as “I can understand why you feel that way” go a long way towards you and the customer finding a resolution.

Thank Them

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of constructive criticism, and there are plenty of benefits. Another way of showing the customer you’re taking their comments on board is to thank them. If something has gone wrong, the customer has been the one to bring it to your attention, allowing you to avoid making the same mistake in the future and, instead, further improve your company and customer service.

Offer A Solution

Now that the complaint has been filed and understood, it’s time to sort things out. Think carefully about how you’re going to rectify the situation and be flexible to suit the customer as much as possible. Don’t offer something you can’t deliver, and don’t make false promises. You could offer a refund or discount if that suits the situation. If, for example, you’ve completed plumbing work in someone’s bathroom and the customer has found a problem, offer to fix it free of charge. Whatever you do, make sure the customer leaves feeling positive about you and your business.

It’s how you resolve a problem that can make or break your customer’s loyalty.

Follow Up

To ensure everyone is happy and the situation has been dealt with accordingly, follow up with the customer a little while later. Ask how they are and if they’re satisfied with how everything has gone and been dealt with. One study found that 70% of customers leave a company if they don’t believe you care, so showing you care about their experience can be the icing on the cake.

Learn From Mistakes

Now is an excellent opportunity to improve for the future. Whether that’s how you complete a job/service or even how you deal with customer complaints, no one can be perfect all the time. So use a complaint as a way of growing, improving and perfecting.

Online

These tips should help in almost any situation with a customer complaint. However, things can be a little different in the online world. Now more than ever, people are leaving reviews and comments online. So what should you do if you or your company receives a bad review?

Ultimately, you’ll follow the steps above, but first, you need to take the first step in resolving the matter and having the comment taken down/edited.

Ignoring the comment might seem like less hassle, but the longer it’s visible, the more people will see it and potentially avoid your business.

Include

Start by replying to the comment quickly. The customer may be surprised when you do, but it’ll show that you care and have understood the situation. Next, acknowledge the issues mentioned by the customer and show sympathy for their negative experience.

Apologise for what’s happened and offer to fix the issue. Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention and taking the time to provide feedback.

Reassure them that you’ll do what you can to resolve the issue and avoid repeats in the future. Offer to contact them via phone or message to discuss the matter in more detail.

Avoid

When writing your reply, avoid using your business name or location. In doing so, the negative comment is less likely to be picked up by search engines and related to your business.

Don’t get involved in a back and forth conversation on the post, as it will only bring more attention to the bad review/post.

Customer Complaints: How To Deal With Them Effectively

No matter what, no company or business is immune to complaints. But what can set you apart from the rest is how well you deal with them.

All data correct at time of publication.