Customer complaints are a normal and expected part of the retail business. But customers don’t just complain because they want to. There’s usually a good reason why a customer would go to the trouble of contacting you to express their displeasure. The usual reason is that a purchased service or item did not meet their expectations.
While there’s no way to avoid complaints, there are things we can do to manage them. Tools like a warranty management system enable you to provide better service for your customers. But even the best systems can’t do much if the grievances are legitimate.
For every customer that complains to you, there are 99 others you’ll never hear from. Of course, just because the 99 did not file a complaint does not mean they aren’t unhappy with your service. Instead, they will tell their friends and family and anyone willing to listen to them. So when you get a complaint, you should feel thankful that you get an opportunity to address a problem.
Sometimes, all a customer needs is a listening ear and an acknowledgment of fault. They want you to do better so they will get better service when they return. Handling and resolving customer complaints are essential if you want to survive in the retail business.
1. Stay professional
When a customer complains, always remember that it is never personal. The customer does not know you, so there’s no reason for them to attack you. Instead, they want their problem handled and solved.
Confronting a customer doesn’t achieve anything. If you want to handle this situation, you need to keep your emotions in check and negotiate from a position of strength. Do not get defensive, and always stay calm and professional.
2. Wait for them to calm down
Once a customer starts ranting, there is not much you can do to defuse the situation. All you can do is wait for them to blow off steam. Listen, keep your responses to a minimum, and do not attempt to explain the situation. Let them vent until they calm down.
They need to enter a calm and rational state of mind before they can accept explanations and solutions. Once you feel like they have achieved that, then you can begin taking control of the situation.
3. Acknowledge your mistakes
Half of dealing with customer complaints is listening. The other half is more listening. Sometimes, what people want is just to be heard. If the fault lies with you, admit and accept blame. Even if it was not your fault, you still need to empathize and understand the customer’s feelings.
A simple “I understand” and “I can see why you feel that way” can go a long way in improving a customer’s mood. Repeat the customer’s language, and they will start lowering their guard, paving the way for a more productive discussion.
The more you resolve customer complaints, the better you develop a better understanding of your customers and their needs. If you want to cultivate a loyal customer base, you need to make them feel like their opinions matter.