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  • 28 July 2015
  • Eric Michaels

Five Quick Tips for Dealing with Customer Complaints

No matter how carefully you run your business, you are going to come across an unhappy customer sooner or later. The problem may result from a genuine mistake, a misunderstanding, a product defect, or a situation entirely out of your control. Whatever the cause, you end up in a situation where you need to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. Here are five quick tips for dealing with customer complaints:

1. Let the customer vent.
While complaining, customers may exaggerate or add details you know are inaccurate. Rather than interrupting to clarify a point or correct them, allow them to vent. In this way, you show customers that you are willing to listen to their grievances even if they depart from the truth because it is an important part of the process. In some cases, your company's policies or goods will be the source of the animosity, so you owe customers the opportunity to respond. Allowing them to vent shows you care, which leaves a good impression.

Getting feedback about solutions is an important part of fielding customer complaints.

2. Offer a genuine apology.
Whether or not your company is responsible for the problem, make sure an apology is part of your response. In some way, your company was behind how this person is feeling, which raises the stakes for the situation. An angry customer can have a significant impact on your business, so instruct your customer service team to apologize unconditionally upon fielding a complaint. Put the job in the hands of your best or take it upon yourself to ensure it gets done quickly. Reasons behind the problem and solutions can come later; start with the apology.

3. Determine the best solution.
Depending on the extent of the problem, you may be able to make a customer happy by offering a replacement product or refund. In other situations, a policy or otherwise intangible problem could make the solution more open to interpretation. Once your customer has calmed down, ask what would make the situation better. You may be surprised by what the customer proposes to settle his or her problem, and it may be less than you planned to offer. Getting feedback about solutions is an important part of fielding customer complaints.

4. Solve the problem.
With a viable solution in hand, your next step is to address the problem with minimal delay. If you work with a partner who specializes in the area of the complaint, make sure you set up a phone call or other type of contact right away. Otherwise, take it upon yourself to initiate the problem-solving process. Every business faces challenges; how you respond will define your reputation among consumers and in the community. Botching your response to customer complaints will have the opposite effect.

5. Follow up to ensure satisfaction.
If you have scheduled a refund for services rendered as a solution, double-check your account to make sure the process is complete. For returns of goods or replacements, track the package to ensure it is on the way and, when delivered, has arrived in good condition. These steps are among the most important for customers who came to you with a problem. Making them follow up with your company to receive a resolution makes a business look bad. On the contrary, if you are updating the customer on the status of the refund or shipment, you show how important their business is to you.

Customer complaints can do serious damage to a young company. To get out in front of problems with your image, poll consumers about experiences with your brand. Constant Contact's online surveys, now available at discounted prices in The UPS Store, will help you know what your customers really think.

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