No matter how amazing your brand is, you are bound to run into an upset customer from time to time. Whether they are demanding a full refund or just registering their displeasure, satisfying that customer is critical for maintaining your reputation.
Negative reviews and unhappy customers can erode trust in your brand and tank your sales numbers. Trying to make things right with those individuals can do the opposite, solidifying your trustworthiness and improving your sales.
While the specifics of the complaint may differ, one may hate your product while another’s order may have been lost in shipping, there are a few ways you can deal with complaints in general.
From properly training your staff to simply listening to the complaint, here are 7 ways you can turn an unhappy customer into your biggest fan.
1. Say Thank You
When having a tense or negative interaction with a customer, it is essential to diffuse the situation. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to thank the customer for taking the time to reach out. They may be contacting you with a complaint, but remember, any feedback you get (even negative feedback!) is valuable to you. The majority of unsatisfied customers will never say a word to you. They will simply take their money elsewhere. And what’s worse, they are likely to share their experience with people in their own lives. This means those people may be prompted to take their money elsewhere, too!
Saying thank you is unexpected and will catch the complaining customer off-guard. It will automatically put both of you in a better position to find a resolution.
Be sure that your apology strikes the right tone, however. An overly enthusiastic thank you will likely register as disingenuous and make matters worse. Follow your thank you with an apology and an invitation to share more information about their experience.
If you do not hear what the customer is saying, it will be nearly impossible for you to help repair their relationship with your brand. Many times when there is a problem with a purchase, no matter the problem, it can leave the customer in a heightened emotional state. By letting them know that you hear what they are saying and that you empathize with the experience, you create a space where they are willing to listen to you in return when you share any potential solution with them.
3. Keep it Clean
When dealing with a customer who is very upset and hurling insults, you need to make sure you keep things clean. It is hard when someone is cursing and swearing to not do the same but you must keep yourself calm and professional at all times.
While the customer is ranting at you, use the time to calm yourself down. Remember that they just need to be heard. If you are taking a complaint over the phone, be sure the customer has the opportunity to tell their entire story before you begin offering a solution. Trying to solve the problem before they are done sharing can make them feel dismissed and ramp up tensions even more.
If you are responding to a complaint that has come in via email or through a chat window, take a deep breath before you respond. Read over what you have written to make sure that any frustration or emotion that you feel is not reflected in your tone.
By being respectful and calm in the face of anger, you can go a long way to resolving any negativity the customer may be feeling.
4. Train Your Staff
One powerful step you can take to turn unhappy customers into returning customers is to train your staff to handle whatever may come their way.
Establish a standard of professional behavior so that they know what exactly is expected of them.
Empower them to handle any and all situations. Inform your staff of any established policies and procedures and give them the power to make decisions regarding things like returns and exchanges. When your staff is empowered to address situations as they see fit, they will be better at what they do. Competency translates to complaining customers and makes them feel like they are dealing with someone who has the authority and ability to resolve the issue.
Anyone who handles these complaints, whether it is you or a full team of customer service staff, is the first point of contact for an upset customer. By beginning the exchange with confidence, competency, and a little bit of compassion, you can create the type of experience that makes people talk about you in a positive way.
5. Work Quickly
Try to respond to customer complaints or concerns as quickly as possible. The longer a customer goes between the time of their complaint and the moment you respond, the more upset they become and the more likely they are to think you do not care.
And while most customers hope for a speedy response from customer service, they do not necessarily expect one. The faster you respond, the more pleasantly surprised they will be. Once again, this gesture of respect will create a more positive interaction.
And do not forget to monitor your social media pages. Customers may not reach out through your customer service channels to complain; they may choose to blast you online instead. How you respond to these comments will not only impact the complaining customer, it will impact all those who read it.
6. Stay Positive
When you find yourself starting to feel negatively towards your customer, try to flip the script. Instead of finding their complaint annoying, frame it in a positive light. The customer is not being impossible, they are being passionate. Once you are able to view the complaint in a more favorable light, you will be better able to work together toward an agreeable solution. If customers feel you understand the complaint and are not being dismissive or condescending, again, they are more likely to walk away happy and give you their business again down the road.
7. Use It to Improve It
Every single complaint you get is an opportunity for improvement. When a customer complains about product quality or shipping method, it is worth listening to.
And it is important to investigate whether or not certain complaints are happening often. If you are getting the same complaint over and over again about your product, then there is likely something you need to fix about your product.
Being able to tap into complaints and making these adjustments not only mitigates future complaints about the same thing, it creates an avenue for a previously dissatisfied customer to make a return to you. Improving products and services shows these people that you were willing to listen to your customer base, which improves your trustworthiness in a big way.
Unhappy customers are never fun to deal with. No company likes to hear when and how they have failed someone and no person likes to be the one responsible for addressing that failure. But, unhappy customers can be a real asset to your brand. By following the steps above, you can improve your relationship with these individuals. While you want to avoid customer complaints, you do not need to be afraid of them. As a brand, if you can provide someone with a truly surprising and positive exchange, they will talk about it. Word of mouth and peer reviews still drive the majority of purchases.