I provided a brief review of my five-step process to deal with a complaining customer. There is also a video explaining this process in the first section below:
1. Acknowledge the problem.
2. Apologize for the problem.
3. Fix the problem – or discuss how it will be fixed.
4. Do it with the right attitude – not just being nice, but acting accountable.
5. Doing all of this with a sense of urgency.
Common sense would tell you if you hear people complaining about something, not once or even twice, but again and again, do something about it. Complaints are gifts for you to improve your business practices to better meet your customer's needs. Also, the new customer is not only speaking to you anymore, they are now talking to the world through social media, so, be on your best behavior, because you’re being held to a high standard and if you fall short, you can also receive a “gift” in the form of a social complaint.
You can give your customers the right answer, but if throughout the process they feel like it took more time than expected or too much effort, it’s seen as a bad experience. Your customers don't simply want you to fix their issue, they want you to fix their issue quickly, or offer an immediate gesture or service to assist.
Here are two simple thoughts about managing versus avoiding customer complaints: 1. Be proactive. Deal with a potential problem or complaint as quickly as possible. It may or may not be your fault. Either way, you must demonstrate an attitude of accountability, so choose to own it. 2. Don’t just fix the problem. In the process, work to restore confidence. Prove that the customer made the right decision to do business with you. It is typical that most companies want to create a customer service experience that doesn’t give their customers anything to complain about. Well, it’s not a matter of if the customer will ever have a complaint. It’s when the customer will complain.