It is common for small businesses to experience customer complaints at point in time. However, it is the way you handle complaints that can have an affect on your business. CustomerSure, a customer feedback service for businesses have highlighted the ways you can receive a postive outcomes, after receiving a customer complaint.

TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT

It is instinctive to feel defensive of your small business after receiving a complaint. Most issues derive from customers feeling let down or frustrated, and most likely aren’t trying to create drama. Treat these complaints merely as customers letting you know that your business had made an error.

The Managing Director of CustomerSure, Guy Letts had emphasised that you must
never take feel insulted by complaints. Always try to understand why the customer has a certain issue, and see their perspective. It can be difficult, but this outlook will only benefit you and help you better understand parts of your business that needs improving.

All of which will only help you gain more customers.

TAKE ON BOARD EVERY COMPLAINT

Successful customer­ focused organisations are ones that perceive complaints as
voluntary feedback – with no effort put into surveys, loaded questions or focus groups. All complaints should be treated delicately, as it’s direct form of communication from the customer. Customers don’t complain just to annoy you, but purely because they have come across an operating problem within your business, and would simply like to communicate it to you. If the issue is addressed, then it is very likely that you could also fix the same problem for other customers, who probably didn’t voice their opinion.

WALK IN THE SHOES OF THE CUSTOMER

Most complaints are a buildup of frustration. It is quite uncommon that customers
complain aggressively about small problems. Frustration only exceeds when the
customer hasn’t seen any results. This encounter usually follows with a customer
notifying you of the issue, see no resolution and therefore complain.

Customers who complain are most of the time reasonable humans who have attempted to approach the issue thoughtfully. It is when the customer’s attempts are ignored or poorly dealt with, that they become frustrated. Customer complaints are usually due to unfairness or poorly communicated response. Ignorance isn’t bliss, predominantly when they customer has invested in a product or service.

HAPPY RESOLUTIONS

A customer complaint must at all times be resolved completely. Here are six ways you can achieve that:

  • Communicate with the customer
    Regularly sending letters or emails will work at times. However, phone calls are a
    faster way of getting a positive result. Phone calls help you understand the
    complaint clearly, whilst also it’s a more personalised approach, with little chance
    of misunderstanding your tone of voice.
  • Seek out what the customer wants
    You might have an understanding of how the complaint should be tackled. However, the customer’s idea may completely differ to yours. Make sure you ask questions and truly listen to their requests. Achieving every request may be impossible, but you can always meet halfway.
  • Quiz customers about bigger problems
    Other than the specific issue, it is important to ask whether the customer is happy
    with your product or service in general. Ask for as much feedback as you could
    get. Asking for customer’s opinion helps them feel valued.
  • Rewarding the customer
    Other than solving the customer’s issue, it is important to cherish your customer’s
    patience – by giving customers a discount, or voucher for your products or
    services. The reward will help you emphasise how much you appreciate
    customers and will help you keep your customers.
  • Conclude your solution
    Call up your customer and go through the steps you have produced to resolve
    the issue, then send through a follow up email or letter. Always insure that there’s
    an satisfying agreement between you and your customer. Customers that feel
    involved in the decision making will help you avoid any other disputes, later down
    the track.
  • Remain in contact
    Follow ups a week later are vital to all of the above steps. If your customer is
    satisfied, then you have succeeded in resolving their problem. If the issue
    remains then repeat all of the steps again. It’s important to be responsive.

NEVER IGNORE COMPLAINTS

I repeat, never ignore and always respond to customer complaints. The quicker you sort out the problem, the faster it will all be resolved and you’ll be able to maintain your customer. It’s much for expensive and time consuming to find new customers than it is to already keep the ones you have.

Remember, we live in a highlight connected world now and by ignoring a customer
complaint your business is in danger of gaining bad reputation online or through word of mouth. Complaints should just be accepted as part of running a business.

By already creating a procedure for dealing with complaints will only benefit your business in the future.

EXPECT ANGER AND EMOTION

Complaints can form into nasty remarks, burst of emotions and erratic behaviour. It’s a terrible experience for your staff and even for your customer to go through. It’s important to note that customers view your business as an entity (single unit), therefore take issues personally. Customers never want to complain, and most stay clear from any conflict. Therefore, when it comes to complaining, the customers are already feeling nervous and annoyed about the situation.

RATIONAL NOT IRRATIONAL

The first burst of emotions from a customer complaint usually comes in the form of a letter, email or phone call. It’s important to instantly decrease tension, these tips may help:

  • Make complaining available and easy
    List contact details on your website and your stationary. Put energy into asking
    for customer feedback, whether it’s good or bad. It’ll only strengthen your
    business.
  • Respond to complaints fast
    Follow up with the customer, after a complaint within a week. The quicker, the
    better.
  • Be genteel
    Respect and apologising for your business’ faults are always the key to a positive
    outcome.
  • Step in their shoes
    Understand the customer’s perspective, and the incident. This will help you
    narrow down exactly what had caused your customer to become upset and
    therefore fix the issue.
  • Never deny the issue
    Disputing the customer’s view of the issue, is basically saying that they’re liars.
    This will only anger them more. Even if you can’t see the issue, try to find what
    the customer sees and fix it.
  • Have an escape plan
    It’s important to always have a backup plan for when a customer becomes
    unreasonable and shows signs of aggression. In these situations it’s important to
    simply say “I’m sorry, we’ll have to stop this conversation now.” No one has the
    right to behave towards you or your staff.
  • Prepare your staff
    There’s a real art to dealing with customer complaints. To minimise conflict and
    avoid overwhelming your staff with complaints, send your staff to the required
    training.

FIND THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE

If there have been a number of complaints relating to the same issue, it’s best to look deep within your business. Resolving these issues will only help your business expand. Once again, a reminder that if only one person has complained it doesn’t mean that other customers haven’t experienced the same issue. Use these sources to find mend what is broken:

  • Ask for feedback
    Any chance you get, inquire how successful or poorly your business is doing.
    Make the questions specific to the various areas within your business.
  • Discuss it with your staff
    Can your staff see the issues? Are they being repeated?
  • Scrutinize your business’ procedures
    Get advice from mentors or business confidants, on how you could enhance your
    business’ performance.
  • Fix, fix and fix
    Complete all the necessary changes needed to be made. Fixing issues may cost,
    however it will save you money later down the track.

TAKE ON BOARD EVERYTHING YOU’VE LEARNT

You’ll never be able to avoid complaints, especially once your business grows to a
certain size. As emphasised above, you can only use complaints to improve your
business and the procedures within. Create a positive attitude towards complaints within your company. If your staff are informed and trained, your customers are much happier.

Content and loyal customers is what you want for your business. These customers are more likely to spend more, and help your business stay financially afloat. Customers create a purpose and drive for your staff. Never panic when you receive a customer complaint, just remember the handle them correctly. It really pays off.

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