Train Employees to Turn Customer Complaints Into Opportunities

It’s estimated that a sincere, concerned, and skillful response to a problem can retain the business of about 95 percent of customers who complain. Below are some important points to convey to your employees:

  • Most customers who complain are reasonable. They just want you to take their complaints seriously.
  • They want you to demonstrate concern for their problem. They want you to take interest, pay attention, and show empathy for their predicament. They also want a chance to explain their problem, and they expect a courteous, concerned response.
  • You also need to understand the complaint. Why is the customer complaining? What does the customer really want you to do about it?

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  • You may need to investigate a problem as well. This might mean checking records and talking to others in the organization to find out what went wrong.
  • And once the problem has been properly identified, you have to work with the customer to resolve the matter to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Sometimes, of course, a complaint can’t be resolved entirely to the customer’s satisfaction. When that’s the case, you should deliver the bad news honestly, pointing out any positive elements, such as alternatives that could meet the customer’s needs just as well.
  • You should also try to make up for the customer’s trouble in some way — especially if it’s not possible to do exactly what the customer wants. Providing something extra to say "We’re sorry; we value your business" often helps repair any relationship damage that might have been caused by the problem.

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  • And always remember to thank customers for alerting the company to problems. We have to be grateful to a customer who takes the time to complain and point out things we’re not doing well. It gives us a chance to improve service and keep the customer.
  • Along with thanking customers for complaints, follow up to make sure that whatever solution was agreed upon has actually been implemented and has solved the problem so that now the customer is happy with the outcome.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, remember that complaints give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and prevent future problems.

The information in today’s Advisor is excerpted from BLR‘s presentation "Customer Service Skills: How We Can All Improve."

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