Ensuring customer satisfaction is vital to the success of every business. Oftentimes, this includes handling customer complaints from angry consumers. However, learning tactics for handling upset customers is simple and possessing these skills will make you a much more valuable employee. Here are my favorite 10 tactics in handling customer complaints.
1. Be an active listener. Let your angry customer explain the problem and get it all out of their system. As your customer talks, indicate that you are listening—uh huh, really, I’m so sorry this happened. This step is important because the more time a customer spends airing their grievances, the more time they have to calm down.
2. Let your customer express his or her opinions. Allow your customer to share his or her thoughts and feeling about the situation without passing judgment, and only intervene if he or she becomes directly abusive toward you.
3. Maintain your personal integrity at all times. If the customer begins to abuse you, calmly say something to the effect of “I understand your frustration, but attacking me will not solve your problem. I would like to help you.”
4. Show sympathy. When you deal with so many customer complaints each day, it may be difficult to feel sorry for each situation. However, a great customer service representative will show sympathy each time. Make sure the customer know that you understand their frustration and that you take responsibility of the mistake.
5. Express empathy. In appropriate situations, express your empathy for your customer. Empathy implies truly understanding your customer’s feelings. However, saying, “I understand your anger,” can create more problems if, in fact, you do not understand. The customer may become angrier and snap back with, “You have no idea!” Telling your customer that you can imagine how upsetting the situation must have been is a much better way to express your empathy.
6. Ask questions. Once your customer finishes telling you why they are angry, ask about the facts and for details of the problem.
7. Switch gears into solution mode. Know when to ask open-ended question and when to stick with yes or no questions. Find the underlying cause of the problem so you can quickly find the best solution.
8. When appropriate, apologize to your customer. When handling a customer complaints, there are three general types of apologies you can offer. However, make sure you choose the appropriate apology for the appropriate situation.
- Direct Apology: “I’m sorry that we didn’t send your order on time.”
- Blameless Apology: “I’m sorry that you are upset.”
- Fake Apology: “It sounds like we owe you an apology.”
Many customers interpret fake apologies as an actual apology, when, in fact, you never made one.
9. Promise you will try to fix the problem. Never promise to fix the problem, just in case it is something you cannot fix, but always promise that you will try to fix the problem. If you make an attempt and fail, it will only create more issues.
10. Agree on a solution. Even if you have not fully resolved the problem, make sure that you and your customer agree on the solution. More importantly, make sure that your customer is truly happy with the solution. If your customer is reluctant to accept your solution, he or she may look for goods or services elsewhere.
As you can see, handling customer complaints is simple, but following through with these 10 tactics will help you bring even your angriest customers back for more business. For more information about communication, read this blog post about effective phone talk.