The Right Way to Follow-Up on Customer Complaints

We’ve all heard that old saying ‘The customer is always right’ and we all know that the customer is NOT always right! Customers often make completely unjustified complaints; so the question is – ‘what is the best way to deal with customer complaints: both real and unjustified’?

As a business owner, you have responsibilities to both your employees and your customers. The only effective way of handling a customer’s complaint is to do your research and determine exactly why your customer is unhappy; then address the issue in a respectful manner with both your customer and staff member.

Listen to Your Customer

Listen to what your customer has to say. They have made a complaint, justified or not, so obviously they are concerned about a specific aspect of your service. Let them speak, and listen respectfully. Don’t be tempted to jump in with your response. Try to understand why this customer is unhappy and what’s driving their concern.

Empathize

Now you need to create a bond between the two of you; so once you’ve carefully listened to their story you should empathize with the position they find themselves in. Let them know you’re actually listening; that you understand their complaint and empathize with them. Say you intend working with them to ensure the issue will be resolved to their complete satisfaction.

Suggest a Solution

It’s time to offer a solution to your customer’s complaint. Remember always to focus on what you can and will do, as opposed to what you cannot or will not do. We know there’s a solution to every problem, and it’s usually a very simple one. Perhaps the solution won’t be exactly what they’re asking for, but focusing on what you can do instead of denying them their chosen solution means you’re still offering a remedy. Just the fact that you’re happily and willingly offering a different solution will usually be sufficient to diffuse the situation.

Time To Move!

Execute the solution, and do it now! Once you’ve both agreed on a solution, make sure you implement it immediately. This is great customer service, and your once-unhappy customer will walk away a very happy and still-loyal customer.

Follow-Up

Following a complaint resolution, always follow-up with your customer to ensure that they’re happy and that you took care of their concern in a manner they’re entirely satisfied with. This is a very important step, and one that very few businesses take. Your customers are your livelihood, so you must ensure that they’re happy with your service. By reaching out to a customer following a complaint resolution, you’ll achieve two things:

  • The first is that you’ll discover whether you actually did resolve their concern;
  • The second is that, if they were happy with the resolution, your contacting them will serve as a fresh reminder of the great customer service they received.

Just taking this simple step will set your business apart from the rest: it will prove to your customers that they’re important to you and that you do actually care about them.

This post was written by Vincent Cassar, the founder of Keeping™ and an expert on customer service.

Keeping™ is the world’s first help desk that works inside Gmail. It’s a customer support tool that integrates inside Gmail/Google Apps. It allows a team to manage customers support more efficiently directly from their current mailbox.  Get a free trial here.

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