We’ve only ourselves to blame though – the service offered to customers in this country is largely unimpressive and barely nudges anything towards good, let alone excellent. Customers know this – indeed you know this; you’re a customer, too. So when something goes wrong, they’re ready for a punch up – they expect to be fobbed off, forgotten, left on hold for hours on end and added to the lethal mix is of course how the complaint came about in the first place: they’ve been inconvenienced, embarrassed or irritated.
The knee-jerk human reaction to complaints is to defend and take everything said to heart but, like a lovers tiff, much is said in the heat of the moment and that moment quickly passes. So, bite your tongue and hear the complaint out. Remember that the customer doesn’t need or want to hear your excuses. They’ve been inconvenienced and that’s all that matters – in the words of overly cheesy American motivational speakers: “the customer is King”.
When they’ve finished ranting, remain calm and professional and above all sympathetic. Offer an explanation (which is different to an excuse) as to how the problem came about and if you don’t know, promise to investigate but first to arrange some sort of an apology or compensation.
You don’t have to be sending them on an all expenses paid trip to the Maldives: a refund or replacement plus a hand written card offering your apologies, perhaps with a gift voucher or even a small bunch of flowers really speaks volumes. You’re aiming to correct the emotional opinion the customer has of you right now. But the real secret to handling complaints is in maintaining communication with the customer. A more formal letter explaining in full how their complaint came about is useful but what has even greater impact is a follow up letter or email or even a further bunch of flowers to ensure the customer has provided all the information they needed and is happy. £40 in flowers, a little bit of patience and a customer-focused approach results in a customer that sings your praises and instills confidence in you to others, that is guaranteed to return.
It's all about creating something that people will remember: the lasting impression of how you handled their complaint or grievance and the attitude you had. We're pretty emotional beings, humans, and are quick to defend ourselves and deny involvement. But if you remain calm, personable, genuine and approachable (even if it does me ripping the life out of a stress ball), it's this that people will remember. So you take the complaint and actually turn it into something very positive. It's very easy to be aggreived by idiots but it's difficult to be angry with people who are kind and are trying to get the best for you.
There's a whole host of free resources for your business on my website, including a detailed Service Recovery plan - how to turn those complaints into happy customers and even another sale!
Jez Rose is The Behaviour Expert, celebrating 10 years deliveirng extraordinary and memorable training for some of the world's leading global brands in customer service, leadership and unleashing the power of people. www.thebehaviourexpert.com
Member since: 6th June 2013
Jez Rose is an internationally renowned Behaviour Change Consultant, professional speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, author and media personality.
Despite being the “go-to” guy for memorable and behaviour-changing...