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If you’ve been in business for any length of time then you’ve dealt with a disgruntled customer every now and again. While it’s impossible to keep everybody happy 100% of the time, how you respond to customer complaints reveals a lot about your business & whether you can turn a complaint into a compliment. Data shows that nine out of ten customers will continue to do business with you even after a mistake has been made – IF you address the problem immediately and appropriately.
So while you can never eliminate all customer problems, you can have a solid strategy in place for how to handle them. Let’s look at four common customer complaints and how to deal with them:
1. Unmet expectations
Sometimes, a customer’s experience with your product won’t live up to their expectations. There can be several reasons for this. It may be that they simply aren’t receiving the results they anticipated. Or perhaps they feel like your company misrepresented the function of your product.
The first step to handling this is to listen to the customer so you can get to the root of their unhappiness. What were they expecting when they made the purchase? What are the results they need to achieve?
Next, you need to find out what they feel like they need from you to fix the situation. Perhaps there is a product or service that is better suited to meet their needs. Or they may just need a more thorough explanation of your product’s capabilities.
2. Your competitor offered them a better deal
Sometimes, unhappy customers will tell you about some incredible offer they received from one of your competitors. Perhaps another company offered to give them a great discount or free training, therefore they think you should too.
First, check if it makes sense to match your competitors. And while some customers may be making up this amazing deal, it’s a good idea to consider whether their request is reasonable or not. It may be worth honoring if it helps you gain a new loyal customer.
As we’ve discussed here, a pricing objection is often levelled because a prospect doesn’t fully understand your value proposition or you haven’t delivered it clearly.
Where possible, establish need and value before discussing price and starting negotiations: this way it’s unlikely a pricing objection will even arise. It’s OK to give a ballpark figure early on, but don’t make the mistake of opening with the price discussion – always start with value and benefits.
Once a pricing objection is on the table though, it’s essential that you gain an understanding of the different possible reasons for a pricing objection and respond accordingly. Listening skills and empathy are crucial at this moment.
4. They feel like an employee wouldn’t help them
Have you ever had to deal with an employee who made it obvious they did not want to help you? If so, then you know how frustrating this experience can be. As we already established, most customers can deal with a mistake and will be willing to look past it if you address it quickly for them. However, this is not the case if they feel like you don’t care about helping them solve the problem. There are few things that will turn an existing customer off quicker than apathy or rudeness.
It is best to proactively handle this problem with proper training and support for customer service employees. If your customer service team isn’t trained properly then you are doing them and your customers a disservice, and frankly, losing money.
And make sure employees don’t constantly have to seek out approval from management to deal with customer issues. For instance, Ritz Carlton lets their employees spend up to $2,000 on a customer per incident without the approval of their manager.
This creates a company culture where employees feel empowered to handle customer incidents on their own.
Customer complaints are challenging to deal with because ultimately, there will be limits to what you can and can’t do. However, we believe there is usually a way to salvage the relationship.
By handling it correctly, you actually open the door to building a deeper relationship with your customer. This is known as the service recovery paradox.
Ultimately, the goal of customer service isn’t to find a way to eliminate every possible mistake. The goal is to find a way to relate to your customer and leverage the opportunity to create stronger loyalty through that experience.