The steps in complaint handling are staying calm, listening to the needs of the customer and apologising, offering a solution and following-up.
Knowing how to deal with customer complaints is a very common problem in customer services, as no product or service is ever perfect. Whatever job you do in this area, be it a sales assistant or manager, you will need to deal with this at some point.
After all, it’s usually not the problem that affects a customer’s thoughts towards an organisation, its how they deal with it. Complaints are opportunities at the end of the day. It may not seem like it, but they give you a chance to improve your service.
Steps to Handle Customer Complaints
Firstly, a customer services professional should always try their best to remain calm and in control of their emotions.
Being argumentative and coming across as annoyed will only make the situation worse. You aren’t trying to win a argument or debate here, so just slow down and remember that you are the people offering the public your services. This means you have to do everything in your power to meet their expectations.
Furthermore, “keep in mind that the issue is not personal; he or she is not attacking you directly but rather the situation at hand”. This is really easy to forget, and as a result, it is also really easy to become angry or defensive.
Listening to the Customer and Apologising
If you stay calm, its much easier to empathise with the customer’s problems, and listen really well.
If customers are angry or upset, then interrupting and talking over them is one of the worst things you could do. You may even end up losing a customer because of it, so try and stay professional. As a result, you need to listen to them and get to the root of the problem.
Next you should apologise for the inconvenience. Make it sincere, not like you are going out of your way to help. This will build trust with the customer, which is vital in this situation.
Offering a Solution
Your organisation will probably have customer complaints procedures so stick to them when you offer your solutions.
Make it clear from the word go what you can and can’t do to fix the problem. This is because you need to offer solutions “that can be done as opposed to resolutions that are impossible”. To double check, talk with your manager to see steps you can take and those that you can’t.
When you offer the solution, say why you are taking this course of action over another. Then, implement that specific solution as quickly as possible to remedy the problem. Customers only want a smooth experience, so act quickly and smartly.
Finally, you need to make sure that the customer is satisfied with your solution.
If the customer is still in your place of work, then approach them and just ask whether everything is OK with what you did. If so, ask if they need anything else.
Successful following up enables you to learn and adapt. This is because your team will become a lot better at dealing with similar problems down the line. The ability to adapt and quickly solve problems means you will have the edge over your competitors. So your team will become really adept at complaint handling.
For more information, you can view our online customer services pathway. This includes a variety of courses, include our own complaint handling. It will prepare your employees to deal effectively with complaints and see them as opportunities.