Amazing, as it may seem, customer complaints can be a major sales opportunity. How you deal with customer anger with a sales clerk, frustration with a product, or the irritation of a faulty billing system can influence future sales and customers’ attitudes about your business. Your approach to customer complaints will play a significant role in determining how successful you are in retaining and growing your business.
Here are five steps to a successful resolution of customer complaints:
- Understanding the problem . . . I have found that the best way to approach a customer with a problem is to ask as many questions as possible to clearly understand the issues and concerns. This approach has the added benefit of demonstrating your level of interest in their complaint and offers me a non-combative way to deal with what can be an emotional situation.
- Communicating your desire to correct the problem . . . After I come to understand the customer’s concerns or issues, I express my sincere interest in finding a reasonable, mutually agreeable solution to the problem. This is, typically, achieved by spelling out the steps I am prepared to take to resolve what appears to be the best way to correct a troubling situation.
- Identifying specific, satisfactory solutions . . . Once you have indicated a possible solution to a problem, it is important to try to get the customer to accept the proposed solution as a mutually agreed decision. This is a critical step and is essential in building strong customer relations.
- Achieving a positive resolution to the problem . . . This step affirms a fundamental approach to business in that solutions must reflect a “win, win” attitude to be really successful. Customers will react positively to you and your business if they believe you are trying to meet them halfway in resolving issues.
- Making sure a similar problem is avoided in the future . . . Solving a customer’s problem is not finished until you have corrected the cause, and this can take many forms of corrective action. It may be as simple as explaining to employees or sales staff the correct way to deal with an issue, or it may be as complex as changing a manufacturing procedure. Whatever caused the problem, in the first place, needs to be dealt with and a procedure put in place to assure its recurrence is avoided in the future.