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  • 22 May 2014
  • Dr Billy M.

Dealing with Customer Satisfaction Issues: The Right and Wrong Way

Customer satisfaction means addressing customer needs by providing quality goods and services as well as addressing any suggestions or complaints. Issues that come up can range from dissatisfaction with your product, to the replacement of an item under warranty, to a full refund of any and all charges. It is critical that you provide excellent customer service by responding appropriately and professionally.

The way you handle customer complaints defines the overall service experience you deliver. Done right, a negative incident that a customer has had with your company can not only be salvaged but turned into an opportunity to win them over and get referrals.

The way you handle customer complaints defines the overall service experience you deliver.

Handling typical complaints
Whether a customer complains in person or via social media, seek to address the issue procedurally and expediently. It could be an error on your part, a misunderstanding regarding product instructions, or something trivial.

  • Listen actively and accommodate their needs by hearing them out.. Figure out why they are upset or having issues with your product by letting them explain their problem. This will help you determine whether this was an unforeseen issue on your end or if any of your policies were not adhered to. Try not to interject, get defensive or challenge their complaint.
  • Understand their problem. Put the customer first by trying to view the complaint from their perspective without judgment. Be considerate and assure them that you fully understand their issue. Remember that body language serves as an indicator of true intent.
  • Observe etiquette — especially with complaints fielded over the phone. Quickly transfer calls to appropriate channels, but take time to explain why. Though some customers may gladly share their complaints again, they should not have to fully repeat themselves.
  • On social media or customer review sites, respond immediately. Ask them if you can direct message them to get the details of the situation.
Infuriated or aggressive customers

There will be instances when the customer is angry or implacable, often resorting to yelling or being rude.

  • Do not be passive-aggressive. Although your first instinct might be to defend yourself, avoid becoming impatient or fighting with the customer. Remember that the customer believes they are correct, and being defensive will only lead to heightened aggression, and possibly anger, on their part.
  • Calmly defend your policies or personnel with a respectful tone. Trying to apologize to a customer by saying "we're very sorry that you're having this problem" may come off as demeaning or dismissive. Apologize and proceed with the best method to resolve the matter.
  • If necessary, escalate the issue to a supervisor or manager better suited for handling the matter. This strategy allows the customer to have a more open conversation with a representative who may have greater permissions afforded to them for solving the matter.
Personal attacks and drawn-out complaints

You may feel complaints about your service are personal attacks due to a belligerent customer. Other customers may threaten to cancel accounts or boycott your business if the issue is not resolved according to their wishes.

  • Don't take complaints personally. You can control how you react, but not how others act. Stay positive, avoid being judgmental and don't let a complaint ruin your day. Complaints are not insults directed at you as a person.
  • Don't drag it out in hopes of maintaining their patronage if it is clearly a lost cause. If a customer's complaint is about your service and they want to cancel their account, do it for them right away. Concentrate on winning customers back with exceptional products or services.
A note on complaint resolution

Customer satisfaction starts with you owning the problem. If you determine the problem is yours, take responsibility for it and delegate to the person who can resolve it. The psychology of offering a resolution revolves around making the customer feel they have won and that your business wants to make it right.

  • It is important to take action immediately once you have decided how to best resolve the situation. Explain to the customer the steps you are going to take to fix the problem. Possible avenues may include offering a full or partial refund, or discounts on future product purchases or services.
  • If the issue cannot be addressed fully because the customer is being unreasonable or is requesting something outside of your stated policies, maintain your best offered solution and no more.

Overall, customer satisfaction is part of your company's total quality management that requires prompt attention. In this digital age, treat every customer as if they have thousands of social media followers. The way you handle one complaint can sometimes make or break your business' reputation.

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