How To Talk to Complaining Customers

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Obviously, every business would avoid getting complaints if they could – but it is an inevitable fact of running a company that sometimes you are going to have to deal with angry customers. But rather than seeing this as an entirely negative experience, it could be one which ends up shedding some light on the things which need to be changed about your business. Even if a customer’s complaints are irrational, you still need to know the best way to talk to them. It may be that you are able to talk them round so that they continue using your services in the future. So, here is some advice which you can put into practice with regards to customer complaints.

Recognise Meaningful Complaints

When you are taking customer complaints, it is important that you recognise the ones that are meaningful. There is always going to be a certain percentage of people who are just on the lookout for free things. But if you keep getting the same type of complaint again and again, this should raise a red flag at your company. That is why your team needs to log complaints so that you can correlate the data, put your finger on what is going wrong, and perhaps decide to change a policy or aspect of your business in order to correct the issue.

Identify the Type of Customer

Customers who are complaining each have their own individual grievance, but they can also be grouped into categories which refer to their main characteristics. Meek customers generally don’t want to be a burden, and it is up to you to get to the bottom of what they are upset about. When this type of customer feels the need to call, this is generally a good indication that something is not right. On the other side of the spectrum, angry customers are outspoken, but you need to try to deal with them with firm politeness. Then, you have the chronic complainer – someone who calls you up on a regular basis with issues. You are going to need extra patience to deal with this type of person, as well as the ability to identify when they are putting meaningful issues forward. Finally, you have the customer who is looking for a payout no matter what. You need to retain a sense of objectivity in dealing with them.

Don’t Be Passive-Aggressive Photo Credit

Customers can respond differently depending on the tone of voice that you use to speak with them, and a passive-aggressive one is not the best option to choose. Instead of offering a genuine apology (if it is deserved), there is often a deferment of blame with phrases like “I’m sorry to hear that you had a problem”. Ultimately, customers are looking for a resolution of the issue that they are having, but they are also looking to be treated with respect.

Transfer Swiftly

Sometimes, you are going to need to transfer the call to another team member or department, but this is something which can be fraught with challenges. First of all, you need a good phone system to ensure that the call doesn’t drop, as well as not putting customers on hold for a long period of time. Take a look at toll free numbers to help avoid the latter issue. And when you are transferring them, you need to explain why this is going to be for their benefit. Nobody wants to be bounced around from agent to agent without a clear explanation of why this is going to be for their benefit.

Speedy Solutions

When you are dealing with customer complaints, it is beneficial to both of you that you get them resolved in the shortest possible time. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you should rush into a solution which is all wrong, but there are some ways to streamline the process. If you are receiving the same type of complaint, you could have a standardised solution in place which becomes your policy. If you have received the complaint via email, it is important that you send a reply acknowledging that you have received it and reassuring them that you are working on a solution and will get back to them as soon as possible.

Treat Customers with RespectPhoto Credit

It may seem obvious, but the simple act of respecting your customers can go a long way. First of all, avoid speaking to them in an overly corporate way which comes across as robotic and impersonal. But on the other side of the coin, you don’t want to go too far in speaking to them like they are your friend. Ultimately, you want to try to establish a rapport with them in a short period of time, and you won’t be able to do this by trivialising their issues. The simple act of being respectful can end up going a long way towards a customer being content and satisfied enough to return to your business again.

Don’t Drag Out Lost Causes

As we mentioned earlier on, you don’t want to simply give customers whatever they want. You should be looking to come up with a meaningful solution which is reasonable. But if a customer continues to demand and demand, eventually, there comes a time when you need to reinforce that the decision that you have come to is final. If this means that they decide to cancel their account or they say that they are going to do their shopping elsewhere in the future, don’t throw up extra barriers which are blocking their path. Ultimately, this is up to them, and you don’t want to seem desperate as this weakens the overall image of your business. And if you get a reputation that everyone gets exactly what they want simply by calling up to complain, you are likely to find and retain more and more customers doing this.

Verify the Resolution

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When you have come up with a solution and it has been agreed upon, you need to provide the customer with some sort of confirmation that this has been done. Usually, this is via email. Otherwise, it can be confusing for the customer and they are left anxiously waiting and not entirely sure whether a resolution has been reached or not. But before you send this through, you need to spell out to them what action you are going to take, anything they need to do themselves, and you should also confirm that they have no further issues which they would like to bring up.

Dealing with customer complaints is an inevitable part of running a business. Do this in the right way and you can help to enhance the reputation of your company. Get it wrong and you are only likely to cause further upset to your customers, and you may end up losing them. Of course, there is a balance to be struck between offering a reasonable solution and not simply caving in to whatever your customers demand from you.

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