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Turning client complaints around - 5 steps to a happier place

Published: 17 May 2017
Turning client complaints around - 5 steps to a happier place

We've all heard the stats every dissatisfied customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. Plus, all their friends and contacts on social media.

Hmm, that's a lot of damaging advertising.

The good news is, bad customer experiences (no matter who is at fault) can often be redeemed - and benefit your business if they're addressed in five logical steps.

Fact: things go wrong sometimes

While smart organisations understand that lots of happy customers are a vital ingredient for success, the business world isn't perfect. And neither are the people who play in it. There are:

  • miscommunications between staff and customers
  • mistakes by staff, suppliers, delivery-folk
  • difficult clients (and very nice people just having bad days)
  • faulty products and services
  • problems out of everyone's control
  • many other reasons things can go wrong.

How to turn customer frowns upside down

Whether you're feeling sheepish about a blunder your business was responsible for, or ready to self-combust with rage over a completely unreasonable client complaint, you'll often achieve the best outcome following the same strategy.

1. Hear out the problem

Whether a client walks into your premises, calls, writes or posts on your Facebook page, swing into action quickly by contacting them and getting them to share their side of the story. If it's on social media ask them to take it offline via email or a phone call.

Don't be judgmental at this stage. Just hear them out.

2. Acknowledge it

While the customer isn't always right, it is important to project your most empathetic self at this stage. Knowing that you genuinely care about their problem can defuse their anger and even dilute the issue.

Sum up your understanding of their problem by recounting it to them for confirmation. This helps you to be clear about the issue and tells them that you are business owner or manager who takes customer concerns, service and their situation seriously.

3. Understand the whole situation

Investigate and get the story from the side of your employee, supplier or anyone else involved. Take an objective view of the situation and be ready to be critical of any process lapse or slip-up at your end.

Don't let emotions get the better of you. Be analytical as you figure out the scope of the problem, your option(s) from here and how long it/they might take to come up with a fix or compromise.

4. Fix the specific issue

The quicker and more complete that you can solve an issue (at least in the customer's mind), the better it is for everyone. Over-promising and under-delivering on what you can do, and how quickly you can do it, can exacerbate the problem.

The last thing you need is to have to pour even more hours and resources into patching a growing problem.

5. Respond back

When you contact your client with your solutions, play close attention to gauge their satisfaction levels and use the positive occasion to win them over. Of course, if they still seem disappointed with you, don't push it. Offer them your apologies and the offer, and be done with it.

If you've managed to solve the problem to your customer's satisfaction, you may want to contact them later to make sure they are happy with the result and whatever you may have offered them. By showing genuine concern and after thought - for your customers' feeling is a great way to turn unhappy clients into brand ambassadors.

How Amazon turned a complaint into great PR

When a customer's Christmas package was stolen, Amazon.com, though the loss wasn't their fault, delivered the replacement order, even waived the shipping charges. This was splashed all over the newspapers and generated goodwill and publicity far beyond the costs they had to incur.

Zappos make service their most important customer

The online retailer has a sterling record with customers because they take out the frustrating "You'll have to speak with my manager, who's not here" scenario and give employees the power to keep people happy. This could mean an extra 15 minutes on the phone, or organising a bouquet of flowers and an apology note.

When people come together for business, there are going to some bad days and experiences. The important thing is how well they are managed.

Being sensitive to your client's situation, thoughts and feelings, and then acting quickly, fairly and with care, can go a long way to making your world a happier and more profitable place.

If you're interested in receiving exceptional service when shopping for your print, design and website needs, contact your local Snap Centre.

Author: Snap Marketing

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