Do you want to learn how to handle customer complaints better? One of the biggest fears of a business owner is how to handle customer complaints.
This is mainly because any business venture’s bedrock is heavily reliant on the clients’ perception of the business.
This forms the foundation for a symbiotic relationship, whereby the client feels at home when in the organization’s care.
Hence, cordial client/company relations are beneficial for both the clients and the business owners.
On the other hand, when clients do not feel the care and concern from the organization or business, this could lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Thereby leading to series of customer complaints which could negatively impact your business’s reputation.
In this blog post, we share effective approaches to handling customer complaints.
Read on to discover how to approach or talk to customers when handling their complaints.
First, What is a Customer Complaint?
A customer complaint is an informal or formal declaration or utterance of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Additionally, customer complaints can be regarded as those factors that cause a loophole or gap in a business’s efforts to ensure that its customers are happy and satisfied.
Formal complaints are often made by filing and submitting reports and official documents containing their complaints.
This is usually with the help of an external party on behalf of the client.
While informal complaints are made by the clients sometimes almost immediately.
It involves discussions on the phone or an email to ensure that the dissatisfaction is solved promptly.
Formal complaints might have to involve letters and the involvement of external parties, as we stated earlier, such as investigative or compliance officers and other representatives of the client laying the complaint.
Factors Responsible for Customer Complaints
Several reasons and factors contribute to client dissatisfaction with a company.
An illustration of this could be walking into a supermarket and finding a customer holding an item and complaining at the receptionist’s desk.
Several questions and reasons will cross your mind as to why the client is complaining.
Could it be that the item did not meet the client’s expectations and needs?
Another reason could be that the item delivered was not what the client requested.
It could also be that the receptionist/attendant was rude while attending to the clients.
These are different scenarios that all lead to one thing; client complaints.
Here are carefully elaborated reasons why most clients feel dissatisfied with a business’s products or services.
This is so that you’ll know the reasons for customer complaints and how best to handle them.
Poor Quality of Goods and Services Provided
Using the illustration above, customers and clients will complain when the goods they purchased are below the required standard, expectation, and value.
When a purchased item isn’t as advertised, customers will be very displeased and disappointed in your business and brand.
Additionally, poor quality of products and services could also be when your products and services are not sold to the right audience or customers.
This means that your products or services are not what the clients thought they need.
Regardless, they will lay complaints, which you must handle to the best of your ability.
Hidden Information and Cost
Another problem is a lack of transparency on your part.
Hence, clients are unaware of hidden costs or charges to your products and/or services.
They will eventually lay a complaint because they feel cheated.
Hidden information on your products and services, which could lead to client’s complaints, are policies such as no return or refund.
Other hidden information includes no free shipping terms that your clients should be informed about before their purchase.
It also includes the specifications as to the abilities and limitations of your products and services.
These hidden costs and information gives your clients or customers negative ideas and thoughts that could be detrimental to business.
Poor Customer Service
One of the major causes of customer complaints is poor customer service.
Poor customer service could take various forms, such as; incompetent staff, staff shortage, inability to attend to clients’ needs and requests promptly, etc.
Additionally, staff with poor communication skills such as respect, politeness, and professionalism could lead to poor customer service.
Thereby leading to customer complaints.
In a case where customers or clients have to repeatedly and continuously report or point out the same issues over a period of time, they become frustrated, angry, and dissatisfied.
They will also proceed to lay an official or unofficial complaint against your company.
Inaccessibility or Unavailability
Unavailability and inaccessibility result in customer complaints.
Being inaccessible and unavailability to the reach of your clients, especially when they need to make inquiries, ask for guidance, or information pertaining to your business, can lead to customer complaints.
Unavailability could also mean not responding to your customer or client’s call, messages or emails promptly.
Little or No Communication Channels
Unavailability, as we stated above, is a major cause of client complaints.
However, we must also note that unavailability occurs when a business does not have a communication channel or platform that allows their customers or clients to easily contact them when the need arises.
A business with no communication or contact channels like emails, webchats, business lines, or social media platforms would cause its customers to always complain.
Making promises you know you have no intention or ability to keep to your client is unadvisable.
This is because your customers will end up feeling disappointed and let down 90% percent of the time.
When your business keeps disappointing a customer, they will have no choice but to express their dissatisfaction and regrets.
Above all, a false promise or unfulfilled promises not only cause clients to complain but also causes clients to doubt the credibility of a business.
Long and Endless Waiting Process
Have you ever been to the bank or a supermarket with few attendants and you had to wait in a long queue before it got to your turn?
Alternatively, have you encountered a problem and decided to place a call through to their customer service representatives; Instead of being given a solution, you were transferred from one team member to another?
If you have been in any of the situations, do you remember how frustrated and irritated you were because of time you had to waste doing just one thing?
Well, that is how your customers feel when you put them through similar processes.
When a client has an urgent need and needs to wait for hours on the phone or in a queue, they might ignore their initial request.
Demerits of Not Handling Customer Complaints Properly
Customer complaints, as we know, are birthed from a place of disappointment, regret, and dissatisfaction.
Hence, it could be damaging to your business.
Some of the dangers of not handling this properly and promptly are:
When a customer complaint is not handled appropriately, your business might face the risk of losing its customers.
Alongside their lack of patronage, they can spread negative reports that discourage others from continuing their patronage.
A business or organization with a bad image will find it very difficult to acquire new customers.
Bad Brand Image and Reputation
When a customer is unhappy with your business or company, they will express their dissatisfaction to others in their circle or online.
This is because nobody likes to patronize a business that does not have a good report or recommendation from others.
A Cut Back in Profit
The financial impact of mishandling a customer’s complaints is something no business should experience.
When your business starts losing its customers due to bad reviews or customer service, it also experiences a cutback or reduction in profit and revenue.
The money derived from your customer’s patronage is what makes up your revenue.
If there is a reduction in the number of customers who patronize you, your profit/revenue automatically reduces.
Losing Customer Retention and Loyalty
A relationship between a customer and a business requires trust, honesty, and transparency to grow.
Customer retention and loyalty emerge from the relationship that a business can build with its customers.
If a business fails to handle its client’s complaints, distrust and doubt come into play, and the company loses the possibility of retaining the customer and gaining their loyalty.
No customer wants to be loyal to a business that they cannot trust to meet their requirements and needs.
Importance and Merits of Customer Complaints about Businesses
If properly understood, addressed, and followed up, customer complaints could be an important tool for business development, improvement, and growth.
Hence some of the benefits or importance of handling customer complaints appropriately include;
Customer Complaints Serve as Feedbacks
One of the importance of customer complaints is that these serve as feedback for your products, services, and other customer-related activities.
When a client complains, their complaints and opinions should be gathered and recorded.
Additionally, as a business, you should encourage your clients to provide you with feedback on your products and/or services.
Safeguarding Brand Image
Customer complaints provide an opportunity for businesses or organizations to protect their brand image online and offline.
Customers who complain are customers whose perception of your company’s image and reputation is negative and bad.
These customers can also spread their views to potential and preexisting customers online through social media and social media via word of mouth.
Hence, resolving these customer complaints would also resolve their dissatisfaction and make them spread the word again about your prompt response to their complaints.
As a result, strengthening your brand image.
Improvement of Customer Service and Communication
Often, clients’ complaints result from poor customer service or a miscommunication between the business and their clients.
An improvement in communication could be by creating channels that allow you to attend to your clients’ needs.
These channels could be emails, websites, webchats, and other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
This allows you to stay in constant communication with your customers and reach out to potential customers.
On the other hand, improved customer service allows for the recruiting and employment of trained and qualified customer service support or team.
It also has to do with attending to the needs of clients and meeting clients” expectations, solving clients” problems promptly, as well as building a relationship with your clients.
Customer Retention and Loyalty
Customer complaints may appear to be negative but plays a pivotal role in customer retention and loyalty.
When you resolve a client’s complaints appropriately, it helps you to build a relationship with them.
This allows you to retain your customers while also building loyalty between your preexisting customer and your business.
New Products and Services
When clients complain, it is not because your products and services are not of high quality and standard.
Rather, it is because your products and services do not meet their required needs at this point.
This is an opportunity for your business to explore those complaints and create new products and services that meet the changing needs of your clients.
Knowing your Customers Better
Customer complaints involve a lot of conversation between you and your clients while trying to resolve the cause of their complaints.
Understanding your clients helps you create products and services that meet their needs and go beyond their expectations.
It also helps you prevent situations that can cause your clients to be dissatisfied with your business.
Overall, it helps you better understand your clients’ behavior and personality.
Creation and Enhancement of Company’s Guidelines and Policies
Company guidelines and policies help businesses and organizations to effectively and efficiently run their activities.
However, sometimes, it might not be beneficial to their clients.
Hence, when you receive customer complaints about your business’s policies and guidelines, you’ll identify how to make these guidelines suit your client’s needs better.
Therefore, improving your business policies.
Now you understand the benefits of taking customer complaints seriously.
Let’s discover the several ways to approach customer complaints to ensure better customer service and improve brand loyalty.
How to Handle Customer Complaints
Here are some steps to help you handle customer complaints
Attentive and Reflective Listening
Among the first steps to handling customer complaints is listening.
When a client lays a complaint, you should listen rather than interrupt the customer or ask them questions while talking.
Listening to your clients can be both attentive and reflective.
It also helps you figure out the cause of the complaints and how best to fix them.
As a result, helping you make a good impression on your clients and improving customer satisfaction.
When trying to solve a customer’s complaint, empathy is key.
Empathy, in this case, means an expression of understanding and feelings towards a customer’s needs and complaints.
When you show empathy to your customers, it proves that you value them and can truly relate to their feelings.
This strengthens business relationships and improves customer retention.
Hence, the best way for you and your customer service team to handle customer complaints is to do so with empathy.
Luckily, you and your team can learn empathy skills to improve how you handle customer complaints.
The essential step to handling a customer’s complaints is by apologizing.
Clients who complain have experienced or found lapses and loopholes in your company’s ability to cater to their needs.
Therefore, they deserve an apology.
An apology shows your customers that these loopholes are not intentional, and it also proves to your customers that your business cares for and values them.
After listening attentively and reflectively listening to your clients, it is essential that you carefully ask questions.
Ensure you repeat the customer’s complaints to them in the form of questions.
Do not Question the Client’s Complaint
As we earlier stated, it is essential to ask customers questions while handling their complaints.
A client who feels accused while trying to lay a complaint would be further aggravated and upset.
Hence, do not question or doubt the client’s complaints by being subjective or biased in your approach.
Instead, listen objectively and make your necessary investigations to help you handle the complaints appropriately.
One of the most important steps to handling a client’s complaints is providing solutions to their problems.
Solutions could be in the form of refunds, upgrades, and sometimes discounts and gifts.
However, providing a solution to customer complaints has to been done promptly.
Any further delay could ruin the chances of the business retaining the relationship with the customer involved.
Following up with client’s complaints helps you to handle the situation properly and timely.
This also means updating the customer regularly on the steps and the stages you are fixing the problem.
This assures your customer that you are concerned about the issues they are currently encountering.
Consequently, helping you handle customer complaints appropriately and offering excellent customer service.
Conclusion on How to Handle Customer Complaints
Above all, the trick to effectively handling customer complaints is not to be positive about the whole process.
While customer challenges can seem disheartening and challenging, try not to see them as challenges but as opportunities.
Indeed, see customer complaints as a unique opportunity to better meet their needs and strengthen your business relationship.
This way, you’ll be positive in your approach in treating customer complaints as feedback rather than complaints.
Hence, put these tips to practice as you handle customer complaints in your business.
Good luck running a successful business.