When a customer complains, think of it as three opportunities in one.
- An opportunity to get feedback on something that’s not working right in your organization.
- An opportunity to convert a disgruntled customer into a loyal customer.
- An opportunity to head off negative publicity.
Here are four steps to take to convert a complaint into a positive outcome.
1. The initial response. Be respectful and helpful. Avoid becoming defensive or saying “it’s not our fault.”
2. Understand the complaint. What’s the true complaint? It may not be easy to stay calm when faced with an angry rant, but making sure your customer knows you’re listening can defuse hostility and ill will. Gathering the facts provides valuable feedback to help you pinpoint the problem and find out what went wrong.
3. Fix the problem. Have established procedures so your employees know who has the responsibility and the authority to correct a problem. Do employees need managerial approval to compensate a customer for inconvenience with an upgrade or refund? What actions can your employee take to remedy the customer’s immediate concern?
4. Follow up. A phone call or letter within a reasonable time can ensure the problem has been resolved and turn the customer from “disgruntled” to “loyal.”