How to Turn Complaints into Win/Win Outcomes

Service failures, such as delayed orders, being overcharged, poor repair jobs, or just unsatisfactory work product or service can harm a company’s bottom line and reputation. Handling these complaints well can ensure customer satisfaction, increase trust, and increase loyalty. Mishandling the complaint, obviously, produces the opposite result.

Here are 5 Simple Ways to Ensure Customer Retention:

  1. Make An Apology

Acknowledging a mistake or misunderstanding, accepting responsibility for the error, and then showing remorse equals an adequate apology. Customers are more likely to forgive the company and report experience satisfaction if they feel the company has made amends in an appropriate manner. You cannot “give away the store,” but you can surely come up with a result that will make the customer happy by just finding out what that would look like for them and then doing your best to make as much of it happen as possible.

2. Solve the Problem

If appropriate measures are taken to solve the problem, satisfaction will certainly be the result. This means carefully and respectfully listening to the complaint and then rectifying it in a manner that makes the customer happy. The staff must be provided with policy, power, and options to make this happen so that the customer feels that they have been dealt with fairly, they matter, and are not perceived as a “nuisance”. You want them to remember how well you resolved their issue, not so much that there was an issue.

3. Be Courteous

Staff must be patient and polite when dealing with customer complaints. Sometimes this may be difficult, however, when a person is respectful, honest, agrees with you and tries to help you, it is difficult to stay angry. Defensiveness, patronizing tones or sarcasm will NOT help in obtaining a positive result. Rather, expressing appropriate concern will greatly assist in retaining this customer and having them leave feeling satisfied that their issue was handled respectfully and appropriately.

4. Give An Explanation

People sometimes want to know why their order went missing, why the job was not finished when promised, or why they were “overcharged”. Bad news is more easily accepted if a plausible explanation is offered. DO NOT LIE!!! Admit mistakes, as accountability and open communication can greatly reduce customer negativity and help them to see the situation more clearly. However, trying to justify the mistake or blaming the customer will backfire, as it just sounds like excuses. The customer may not need an explanation, but they certainly need the problem to be fixed. The goal of an explanation is to increase the customer’s sense that the company is treating them fairly.

5. Handle the Complaint Promptly

When a complaint is handled in a timely fashion, the company is perceived as taking the matter and the customer seriously. Customers see this decisive action as fair. On the other hand, when it takes too long, it appears that the company is trying to hide something or escape responsibility. This reduces the chance of a positive outcome and with the ease of social media, the company could find the complaint has gone viral in a short time. Its always better to address any issue in a very prompt and respectful manner.

It costs more to find new customers than to retain current ones. Retaining a loyal customer and avoiding the development of a bad reputation are keys to building customer loyalty. There will always be complaints…it is how you deal with them that truly matters! In fact, that is when you want to be “gasp-worthy” in how your solve the problem!

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