A customer complaint is an indication of a client’s displeasure regarding a product or service. Customer complaints often arise due to lack of communication on the corporation’s part, substandard or damaged commodities, additional expenses which were not originally conveyed to consumers or even late delivery of goods and services. Such factors result in failure to meet customer needs. Poorly managed consumer grievances harms the reputation of a business and unhappy clients frequently share their negative experiences with other individuals. However, managing customer complaints in an effective manner enhances brand image and customer loyalty. Following are some ways in which businesses can deal with consumer grievances:
Customer complaints are often accompanied by emotions such as anger, unhappiness and disappointment. Clients may become confused in terms of what they can expect from your business and this can lead to distrust in your organization. In this case, listening to them and exhibiting tolerance are essential. The first step is to express sincere concern and apologize for any inconvenience caused. Display work ethic which reflects your commitment and certainty to them that the issues will be dealt with in a professional manner. Ask your customers if there is anything else about your product, service or organization that may have come to their attention. This customer-oriented approach will give your clients the impression that you genuinely care about their needs.
Customer complaints can only be dealt with effectively if businesses accept the problem. Look at it as an opportunity to identify precise issues with your existing product, service, organizational portfolio or systems. In this way, you can increase your chances of retaining clients and creating a loyal customer base. Establishing a calculated plan reassures your clients that you have clearly defined policies and procedures regarding their complaints. Thank and appreciate them for sharing their concerns with you. Customers are investing their time when informing you about their grievances and by choosing to tackle such issues strategically, you can prevent the same mistakes from occurring in the future.
It is important to collect every single detail about the complaint before planning your next step. The issue at hand can only be solved once you completely understand the context in which it surfaced. Devise a system in which you can file and analyze the complaint comprehensively. Share it with your personnel so that everyone can participate in the process and reach the same understanding. Keeping an active phone call and email system enables you to keep in touch with your customers concerning updates during and after their complaints have been addressed. This requires you to be meticulous in your efforts while following up with customers.
Create an organizational culture in which you and your staff strive for continuous improvement. For instance, if policy permits a client to claim a free overhaul of a damaged good, you might consider offering him/her a replacement instead so that customer satisfaction can be attained.
Impart knowledge to your personnel about the different kinds of customers, how to meet their needs and address their complaints. Arrange seminars in which your staff is reminded about how clients are more likely to make repeat visits or utilize your services again if their complaints are resolved in an effective manner. According to the results of a research study conducted by the Warwick Business School, 53% of good customer service is provided by those corporations which have successfully dealt with consumer grievances.
Let us take the example of an angry customer who personally decides to visit your company’s premises to file a complaint. A customer-oriented approach in dealing with this would be to record the grievance, gather details, facts and provide options in resolving it. Consider another situation where a client waits in line for an hour to replace a faulty gadget which he purchased from an electronics store. Your staff informs him that the gadget could not possibly be defective as it was bought by the customer only a week ago. This is a poor example of handling a consumer grievance. In this instance, staff needs to be trained to appropriately handle the complaint and satisfy the angry customer.
It is not impossible to handle even the angriest of customers who give your business a tough time because of their complaints not being addressed properly. Staying calm and collected under pressure is vital when handling consumer grievances. Avoid giving emotional explanations and adopt a positive attitude in your efforts. Regardless of how many customer complaints you have addressed, every complaint should be treated as a unique case so that your clients feel respected and valued. A single customer complaint should preferably be managed by a staff member at one time so that clients do not feel further agitated by being passed around from one individual or department to another.
Being aware of customer expectations enables you to work more effectively on exceeding them. Customer expectations can be both tangible and intangible. Examples of tangible aspects include your awareness of the price consumers are willing to pay for your services or commodities, the attributes they would like to have in your offerings and the quality of after-sales service they expect from you. After complaints have been successfully resolved, provide customers with something a little extra to show them how valuable they are. Coupons, seasonal discounts, personalized and free services should be offered wherever possible. Always remember to follow up with your customers after complaint resolution to get their feedback.
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