Handling customer complaints well can positively boost your profits. Here is a 7 point action plan for success.
The first thing that most people think of when they hear a customer complaint, is that it is bad for business, and future sales can be lost.
While this can be true, it is also possible to turn customer complaints into a profitable situation, with great possibilities for the future.
The following are the 7 best actions that you can take for making sure that your customer complaints turn into profits, not failures:
1. Plan – no matter how great your customer service program, how wonderful your products and services, and how perfect your business plan, you will always have customer complaints every now and again. Therefore, it is only wise that you should prepare yourself by planning in advance for these complaints, and knowing how you will deal with them when they come. The key is to plan to use a positive attitude. Make your main goal the preservation of a business relationship with the customer who is complaining, instead of aiming only to achieve your current profit from them. If you please your customer now, then the profits will come later with continued sales.
2. Give Priority to Complaint Resolution – give your customer a pleasant surprise by providing him or her with a fast response to the complaint, with a clear explanation of how the issue will be resolved. If the problem cannot be immediately worked out, ensure the customer that it is among your highest priorities, and then do everything possible to have the problem solved very quickly. The longer the length of time a customer has to fret about the problem being solved, the less likely the customer will be to accept a solution that you provide and then continue to be your customer.
3. Be a Professional – even if the customer is not behaving in a professional way, it is important that you remain a professional throughout your entire dealing with that person. A customer making a complaint will sometimes behave in an adverse and aggressive way; this is the result of an assumption that you will be resistant to resolving the issue. However, by showing that you are genuinely willing to help them, you can assuage those feelings, and assure them that they are in the right hands for getting things done.
4. Own the Issue – no matter what the problem may be, and no matter whose fault it was, take the responsibility for resolving the complaint. If you try to place blame somewhere, you’ll only look as though you are trying to make excuses. The customer doesn’t care who did it, they only want the problem resolved. Begin by apologizing for the inconvenience to your customer, and continue by explaining the possible cause. Finish by telling your customer precisely what you intend to do to solve the problem.
5. Give Compensation to Inconvenienced Customers – though the hope of complaining customers is for a solution to the issue of their complaint, they frequently expect (and receive) much less. To truly turn the situation into a favorable one, give your customers a pleasant surprise by solving the problem quickly and effectively, and then compensating them for their inconvenience. This turns their attention from the problem to their added special treatment.
6. Follow Up – don’t just assume that because you haven’t heard from the customer that all is well. Follow up on the issue to confirm that the customer is indeed satisfied with your service. This not only shows how much you care about your customer’s satisfaction, but it also strengthens your relationship with this person.
7. Take Preventative Action – consider each complaint to be an opportunity to learn and improve. Use each one to identify the cause of a problem, and make attempts to fix these weaknesses in your business. Frequently they are only minor and easy to avoid in the future.
Customer complaints are the ideal time to show your customers what you’re really made of. Instead of getting frustrated, consider complaints the perfect opportunity for reinforcing strong customer relationships, and bettering your business for customers to come.
About the Author
Robert Moment is an innovative small business coach, customer service consultant and author of “Invisible Profits: The Power of Exceptional Customer Service”.