Complaints automatically suggest an atmosphere of negativity--and it’s no surprise; most complainants turn to companies to voice product or service failures that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Yet with proper complaints handling skills and communication practices, companies can turn complaints into positive customer interactions, effectively converting a complainant into a highly valued customer through the establishment of trust.
So how exactly do you turn complaints into trust?
Proper complaints management is instrumental to forging a positive customer-company relationship, the lack of which can not only damage your company’s reputation, but also lead you to losing valuable customers in the droves.
By responding to unhappy customers in a timely, objective and just manner, you are showing your customers that you actually value their input.
Once you receive a complaint, you should be sure to:
1. Respond in a timely manner
Your team should be actively monitoring all social media channels and your established inbound complaint channels for any customer feedback. Ideally, complainants should receive an acknowledgement within 24 hours of making the complaint.
Remember many organizations don’t even respond to complainants so complainants are not even sure you have received their complaint and will often re-submit the complaint over and over and often through different channels.
Provide your customer’s with details like the date and time of complaint registration, re-confirm to them what they are complaining about, so they know you get it and provide them with a reference number and if possible with an expectation of when you believe the complaint will be responded to with a final determination.
By acknowledging your customer’s complaint you are immediately reducing a level of anxiety by setting clear expectations.
2. Provide friendly and helpful assurance
Empathy is very important when dealing with complaints. Empathy expressed in a sincere way without admission of fault can go a long way to making complainants feel like there voice is being heard and is taken seriously.
Make sure you personalize your dealings with your customer. Make them feel like their complaint is the most important and urgent complaint you are dealing with, but at the same time keep their expectations set and clear, if you can’t get back to them before next week because you have to investigate some complex details with two other internal departments, tell them so they know and are kept in the loop.
Photo via www.glasbergen.com
3. Provide a solution as fast as possible
Once you have the facts from both sides, you need to determine a final response that is proportional, appropriate and fair.
Communicate the response clearly so the customer understands what you are proposing and why and do this fast. Don’t waste any time in offering a final solution to the complaint. Each day that goes by without a resolution is working against your company.
By responding swiftly, you are letting your customer know that your organization values there patronage. Your company will be perceived as one that cares about customer satisfaction.
4. Check up on your customer
The last and often skipped step of your customer contact serves to establish a positive connection between you and the complainant. Acknowledging and offering a solution to a complaint is one thing; but verifying that your customer is satisfied is an entirely different matter. This part of complaints management is directly geared with customer satisfaction; and remember: a happy customer is much easier to retain and requires less cost to serve.
And in the end, complaints management is really all about the harmonious mesh of customer service and continuous improvement. It’s where investigation processes meets human touch and empathy, and it can often make or break your public image.
So next time you’re dealing with a complainant, approach them with a different mentality. Think of them not as a problem, but as a valued customer with a means of helping improve your company.