6 Do's and Don'ts for Managing Customer Complaints
No business knowingly goes out of its way to frustrate or annoy its paying customers but, as the old saying has it, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Despite your best efforts, mistakes are made, accidents do happen and even when everything's just fine and dandy you're going to come up against someone who wants to complain for whatever reason.
A good way to minimise complaints in the first place is to ensure that you're doing everything you can to delight your customers. No matter how well you think you're doing, business leaders, managers and customer-facing employees can all benefit from formal customer service training. Customer Service Excellence, from business skills training specialists Maguire Training, enables delegates to identify and understand what customers want, need and expect, develop an appropriate attitude to customer service delivery, forge lasting customer relationships and improve customer retention.
Even the best companies receive customer complaints, but the key to avoiding a bad business reputation lies in the way in which you handle them. Here, Maguire Training suggests 6 do's and don'ts for managing customer complaints effectively.
- DO build your business culture around the customer
Customer satisfaction should be at the heart of every aspect of your business and employee training should reflect this. If a customer has a valid complaint about your product this should be fed back for consideration to the designers, manufacturers, sales team and customer advisor so that it can be addressed and learnt from.
- DON'T assume that customer silence is golden
Just because customers aren't complaining directly to you doesn't mean that they aren't complaining at all. Many customers believe that complaints aren't worth the effort or won't achieve anything and so content themselves by badmouthing a company to all of their friends and relatives. Unfortunately, in the internet age a poor reputation spreads fast. Make it easy for your customers to seek redress through as many communication channels as possible and, more importantly, act upon complaints appropriately and promptly.
- DO place yourself in the customer?s shoes
Critically appraise each aspect of your business operation from product design to after-sales service and ask yourself 'if I was the customer what - if anything - would dissatisfy me about this'? Assessing your business from the customer's point of view will help you to better understand and empathize with customers when they complain. This in turn makes it easier to put things right.
- DON'T respond with 'template' communications; make it personal
Customers want to feel that their individual complaint has been acknowledged and is being dealt with appropriately and by someone who can and will help them. Responding to a complaint with a stock fill-in-the-blanks letter of apology or an obviously cut-and-pasted email which does not refer to the specific details of the complaint is as much of a sin as not responding at all.
- DO be transparent and honest when dealing with a complaint
Customers won't settle for being 'fobbed off' and will waste no time in sharing their negative views of a business which they feel has been less than truthful in the way in which a complaint has been handled. The best way to avoid this is to instigate a complaints procedure which outlines to customers, step-by-step, the actions that will be taken when a complaint is received including how and when they will receive responses.
- DON'T forget to follow up when a complaint is resolved
Going that extra mile once acomplaint has been resolved to ask the customer whether everything is OK and if they are happy with the way in which their complaint has been handled could be the action which turns a disgruntled customer into an ambassador for your business. If you've fully dealt with their complaint in a timely manner and have exceeded their expectations, a customer will generally be only too happy to share this news with their friends and family.
Every business that aspires to long-term success and profitability should place customer satisfaction at the heart of everything it does. Appropriate training for managers and employees is a great place to start on the path to minimising customer complaints. This doesn't necessarily mean attending a formal classroom-based training session; Excellent Customer Service is available as a handy online training module which offers all of the benefits of a conventional training course but is delivered over the internet via Maguire Training's versatile mobile and E-learning platform.