Imagine, you work behind the counter at a store and a customer comes barging through the doors bellowing complaints about something he bought from the store. Normally you probably feel like dishing out a piece of your mind too, and matching them word for word. But then you remember they are the reason you have job in the first place. This means that no matter how you feel, you need to find a way not just to appease, but to satisfy and retain angry customers.
This might seem unrealistic to you if you have never experienced it, but it happens a lot.
Customer complaints – like it or not – are a big part of reality in the business world.
Customers’ complaints can be completely legitimate and other times, completely unwarranted. If you work in a call center, behind a counter, or in any other customer service related job, a major part of your duty is to find a solution that will satisfy and retain your angry customers..
Remember that the cost of getting a new customer is several times more than the cost of satisfying and keeping an already existing customer. Tweet that!
Handling customer complaints is very challenging as much as it is sensitive. It must be handled with the utmost care to avoid making an already bad situation worse.
Here are 6 strategies to help you to appease, satisfy and retain angry customers without them blowing a fuse:
- Pay attention to the customer
When a customer calls or comes physically to the office to complain about a product or service, your job is to listen to them. Let them blow off steam.
Never interrupt the customer. Give them your undivided attention – do not appear distracted by looking around or looking away from their face or anything of the sort.
This is the phase where you get to know what his problem is so you can figure out how to go about resolving the issue.
2. Do not take it personally
When faced with an angry customer who is throwing words at you, you might feel the need to want to shout back. Especially if it is obvious to you that the company is not at fault for whatever his problem is.
You need to remember that customers that generally call to make complaints just need someone to vent out their frustration on. Unfortunately, that person is you. However, it does not matter. You are not the one they are angry with so do not let the anger rising within you to come to the surface.
Remain as calm, collected and as focused as possible with them so you do not escalate the problem further.
3. Reiterate the customer’s concerns
When he is done venting, reiterate the problem to his hearing. This shows him that you were really listening. He will correct you if you get any part of the story wrong during the reiteration. This will also help you clarify the points in the customers’ story that you are unclear about.
If the customer feels that you completely understand his concerns, he will be more open to work with you to come up with a solution.
4. Take responsibility for the wrong and apologize
This is the time for you to swallow your pride and come down to the customer’s level. Take responsibility of the situation and apologize to him. Be careful with your words and tone, because most times what makes a statement believable is how make it.
Do not use passive language – make sure he believes that you are genuinely sorry concerning their situation, and that you feel what he is going through. Whether you think he is being unnecessarily dramatic is irrelevant.
Say stuff like “I am sorry that the package we sent you was not in accordance with your specifications. I know this is a horrible feeling, especially after waiting a week to get it. Let us see what we can do to resolve this as quickly as possible”
Empathy along with apologizing can go a long way towards calming the customer enough for you to be able to reason with him. You cannot reason with an angry person so apologize first before trying to solve the problem.
5. Offer possible solution(s)
Now is the time to think through the customer’s complaint and come up with a possible solution. For every possible solution you come up with, always seek feedback from the customer. Ask him if the solution is agreeable with him. His feedback will help you edit the solution until you come up with something that satisfies him.
If you find you cannot come up with anything reasonable, give him the floor. Ask him what he will want done to resolve the situation.
Say something like “How would you like us to go about this. If it is within my power, I’ll see that it gets done”
Do not avoid this process of problem solving by trying to get him to fill a form or saying that you will get back to him. This will make him feel like a statistic – just another casualty of the company.
If a situation is beyond your powers, then bring your supervisor into the situation. This will make the customer feel that his concerns are been viewed by the company as a priority.
However, you should be careful to know when a situation needs the attention of your supervisor and when it does not. You do not want to seem incapable of doing your job.
6. Follow up with the customer
After the customer’s concerns have been adequately addressed, give him a call to make sure everything is going smoothly. From this conversation you can get a sense of where the customer’s head is at concerning your company.
If possible, offer them something nice from the company. It might be a discount on his next purchase or its delivery. Whatever makes sense and is in line with the company policy. This helps him know that he has not been forgotten.
Do you work a customer service related job? Have you handled such customer complaints before? How did you go about it?
Comment below and let us share in your experience