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Turning Complaints into Opportunities!

Dealing with customer complaints can be both gruelling and rewarding. But being able to turn the situation around so your customer is happy with the outcome can strengthen their loyalty to your brand and inspire some gold standard word of mouth marketing.

Communication and attitude are as vital as expert product knowledge.

Listen and empathise

Let the customer tell their story. Ask questions to clarify. Let them know you want to understand. Let your customer know you can see it (and feel it) from their point of view.

Make sure you understand

Sum up your understanding of the problem. Ask the customer to confirm you have it correctly. Clarify factors your customer may not be aware of such as warehousing or supply issues, but make it clear you're not making excuses.

Apologise

Acknowledge that your customer has had a disappointing experience of your services or products. It may not be your fault; there may have been a breakdown in communication; there might be other things in play. Apologise anyway.

Make it right

If it's within your power to fix the issue straight away, outline what you recommend to sort out the problem. Check with your customer that they see it as an acceptable outcome.

Involve him or her to work together with you for the best solution.

Outline further requirements

Outline clearly if you need authorisation further up the line or to follow up with other parties (e.g. overseas suppliers). State how long you expect this to take and how you will advise the outcome. Give your customer a way to contact you so he or she feels he has some control in the situation.

Follow up

Make sure the issue is resolved and the customer is happy with the outcome. If not and it proves impossible to sort out that specific issue, what can you do to repair the situation? A written apology from the company? A voucher for a generous discount on the next order? Gift cards?

Don't just follow up with your customer. Follow up in the business. Was this just a one-off or is there something wrong with the product or the system? Is this likely to happen again? Sit down with the team to go over the system until you are all clear on how to deliver a great customer experience. Use it as a training point so you are sure that everyone on the team has the skills to deal with difficult situations and can see a customer complaint as a great opportunity to make your service even better.