MANAGEMENT: 12 Principles for Addressing Customer Complaints

MANAGEMENT: 12 principles for addressing customer complaints
1. Apologize. Let them know that you’re sorry they’re unhappy.
2. Remain positive. Don’t argue with them or sound defensive.
3. Empathize with them. Let them know you understand how they feel. This is just as important as the apology.
4. Listen. Don’t interrupt. Give them a chance to tell you everything.
5. Ask questions. Confirm that you have a full understanding of their needs.
6. Be an ambassador for your company. Let them know that you will personally handle this situation.
7. Don’t blame others or pass the buck. Admit that you (or the company) was wrong. Don’t dwell on causes or excuses. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of trying to explain away problems (“The parts weren’t available,” “We didn’t know about that,” “Our technician missed that”). An explanation later is fine, but it shouldn’t be the starting point. And the explanation should never sound defensive.
8. Respond immediately. Do whatever you can do to get the problem fixed as quickly as possible. Delays work against you. One study found that 95 percent of complaining customers will return if their complaint is resolved on the spot, but this percentage plummets if the customer has to wait or jump through any hoops.
9. Use humor when possible. Making people laugh puts them at ease.
10. Agree on a solution. Make sure it is acceptable to them. Make a suggestion for a solution and ask, “Fair enough?” Or ask the customer what he feels is fair.
11. Follow through. Make sure things get done how and when you said they would.
12. Consider if there’s a way to create a “story” for the customer to tell by fixing the problem in a memorable way. Make another concession they were not expecting. Give or do something extra. The cost of giving something away is usually much less than the cost of losing a customer’s future business and the business of all those to whom he tells his story.