Rapidly evolving technology has put more power in the hands of modern-day customers. Today, customers can express their dissatisfaction through traditional means such as phones, as well as digital channels such as email, social media, mobile applications, live chat, and online websites. In such a scenario, it becomes vital to resolve customer complaints or face the threat of losing to competition.
Consequently, companies are strengthening their customer care centers and using their best resources for handling complaints effectively. The burning question, though, is how do businesses turn a disgruntled customer into a happy one? Though each complaint comes with unique challenges and opportunities, you can resolve them by following the golden rules listed below.
Draw a strategy map for customer complaint handling. It should be the company policy to welcome all complaints (which could be useful feedback for your sales and R&D teams) from all corners. A fraction of customers actually call to complain about a product or service; others just stop using the company's products. Consider it not as a personal attack on the company's brand, but an opportunity to assure the customer of his or her choice to use the product and grow that trust.
Remember that the customer is spending valuable time, money, and effort in communicating the problem, and the company must be grateful for that. The strategy should include training of customer service representatives, and complaint handling must be accorded high priority.
Patience is the number one virtue that plays a huge role in handling customer complaints. It goes beyond hearing him/her out; patience means listening, making notes, responding to customers during the conversation, and feeling the distress or anger the way the customer feels. A great way to reflect this is by saying: "Thank you for your valuable feedback". A genuine "Sorry" is never an admission of guilt but an opening of communications between you and your customer.
Having resisted the temptation to speak before listening, the next step is to empathize with the customer. This means that the customer service agent assumes that the customer has a valid point and is eager to help him or her to find the solution. It also encourages the customer to open up and provide all the details which clear the view for both the agent and the customer.
Moreover, there is little chance that the customer will not be delighted if the aim is to provide great service and if the customer service agents have the ability to put themselves in the customers' shoes. On the other hand, agents should refrain from getting defensive and taking abuses personally; that could be counter-productive.
All the above points will come to naught if the customer service representative cannot understand the problem or does not know the possible solutions. The agent must have knowledge of the business's products and services to get to the root of the issue and provide a solution. Else, escalation procedures or multi-tiered systems must be laid down to pass the issue to someone who can actually solve it.
Customer service agents must never interrogate or doubt the customer. It is important that questions such as verification details are asked in a caring manner, meant to solve the problem quickly, and not as an interrogation.
Many customers dislike taking orders or being outsmarted. Keeping this in mind, always suggest or offer a few solutions to the customer and ask if it is acceptable to him or her. This works better than taking it for granted that the solution in mind is the best one. Moreover, offering solutions means that the agent is embracing a collaborative approach and is trying to find a solution with the involvement of the customer.
After the solution is accepted, the customer service agent should make sure to seek feedback and provide information on the new products after the customer has agreed to listen. Offering advice that will benefit the customer is also a welcome good option. It is important to follow up the solution process until completion and seek feedback after the problem has been resolved.
It is equally important to share the feedback with the team and perhaps other departments. It could be the best possible training for other agents and provide valuable insights to the marketing and operations teams.
Owing to their busy lifestyles, customers are increasingly seen pushing their concerns towards the evening or to weekends. It is therefore important for customer service to have a 24x7 presence. It is also a way to say that the company is always with and for the customer.
In today's world, an average customer uses the phone, email, online chat, Twitter, Google, Facebook, and several other channels of communication, all in a single day. Customers are also relying on one or all of these channels for their first point of contact and for escalation of their complaints. Businesses must cover all bases to manage customer complaints in a consistent manner. Also, the history of the interaction must be recorded and accessible to prevent repetitive conversations, which will probably cause increased frustration.
A prompt solution could make the company a star in the huge online world, while a badly dealt solution or even lack of response could lead to mounting criticism and loss of customers. Having a strong social media strategy and a team of experts to handle customer complaints online has never been more important. Social media is also a place where it is possible to notice market trends and monitor competition.
In conclusion, the management of customer complaints is a critical task for the customer service division of businesses across industry verticals. Along with soft skill training for agents, companies must also strategize ways of retaining frustrated customers, such as by offering discounts, or personalized offers. This may persuade the customer that his or her business is genuinely valued by the organization.