We’ve all been there before: something about the service we received wasn’t quite up to par, and we think it’s only fair to let the team member know. We hope that they’ll take our feedback well, apologise for any inconvenience caused, and thank us for bringing it to their attention.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the person we tell doesn’t seem to care. They make excuses and shift blame, without really listening to our concerns or offering to help make things right. This kind of response is why a staggering 96% of customers don’t bother complaining – they simply leave, often never to return. In fact, according to research, as many as 91% of dissatisfied customers won’t come back.
Why are these figures so high? It’s because most businesses don’t adequately train and empower their staff to handle customer complaints. When faced with a complaint, employees often try to do what’s best for the business, rather than putting the customer first. While it’s true that some customers may try to take advantage of a situation, the vast majority are simply looking for a solution to a genuine problem.
It’s time for businesses to focus on the needs of their customers by taking complaints seriously and responding in a way that shows they value their customers. By training and empowering staff to handle complaints effectively, businesses can turn dissatisfied customers into loyal ones and improve overall customer satisfaction
The key thing though is to make sure that all staff know how to handle the disappointed and sometimes irate customer. Here’s 5 simple steps that will work with most customers:
1. Immediately apologise and thank them for taking the time to complain – saying “I’m sorry that has happened” tells the customer that you are sorry for what has happened and calms them down. Thanking them tells them you want to resolve the issue.
2. Listen – don’t interrupt and don’t justify – customers want to vent and will only get angrier if you interrupt or make excuses.
3. Provide a solution – either replace or fix the issue, or even ask what they would like done – you’ll be surprised as a lot of customers will just say “I just wanted to let you know.”
4. Do what you promise – if you need to find out more information to get back to the customer, make sure you do this within the time frame you agreed on.
5. Log complaints – then you can work out if the issue is a reoccurring one and if so, fix it.
By following these simple steps, you can avoid losing customers, and in fact grow your business by finding out what is not working and fixing these issues. Customers who complain but have their issue resolved become more loyal.
Remember – it is estimated it costs seven times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Professionally dealing with complaints will allow you to hold onto those valuable regular customers who are the lifeblood of every business.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.