When a Problem Comes AlongTackling complaints head on as soon as they arise is vital to limiting the damage it can do to your business. Obviously, if people complain in person or over the phone, there is no alternative. However, recent years have seen a new avenue for negative customer feedback that can quickly derail your whole service reputation. Social media has seen many a company suffer disaster at the hands of a customer complaint handled badly. When a post is deleted, ignored completely or responded to badly, it is not only a single customer that sees you negatively but the wider audience of the internet. Before long, you are facing a backlash that can be catastrophic. It is of huge importance, then, to reach out to these unhappy customers quickly and positively to limit the damage and highlight the positive side of your customer relations.
Get on the Same PageSometimes, the most important step in repairing a relationship with a customer is just showing understanding. Always start by hearing what your customer has to say and you can not only clear up the root of the problem but also go some of the way towards repairing whatever damage it may have caused. Whether it is a mistake you have made or a difference of opinion regarding your business practices, understanding and empathising with your customer will help you both find a solution and show the customer you care. This begins to diffuse any anger and help you better communicate with them by approaching the problem in the way you would appreciate were the roles reversed.
Doing the Repair WorkFor many issues, the solution to a customer’s problem will be a simple one. A product has been delivered faulty or to the wrong address? Send out a replacement or provide a refund. Did they receive bad service on a recent visit? Offer a discount for their next. Any money “lost” in this gesture will easily be recovered from retaining the customer and restoring your business’ positive reputation. However, there will not always be a solution. You may have certain guidelines in running your business that conflict with a customer’s wishes or you may simply not stock an item that a customer is looking for.
When there is absolutely nothing you cannot do, you can still ensure a positive experience by how you respond. By sympathising and apologising, you ensure a positive connection with the customer. Take it upon yourself to help the customer find an alternative. If that means passing the customer on to a competitor it will hurt you less doing it positively than by making the situation worse and losing potential new customers at the same time.
This standpoint is also relevant for troublesome clients. Just like customers who regularly complain, it may be in your best interests to find them an alternative to save yourself trouble in the long run and keep negative feedback from affecting you too much. This article goes into greater detail on just how to “fire” a client when it is no longer benefitting you to keep working with them, but, essentially, as long as you can show sympathy and respect for both the client and their situation, then you ensure no damage is done by ending the relationship.
Criticism is, unfortunately, part of the job of running a business. It is never nice to face complaints but they can just as easily be an opportunity to shine, rather than a mark against you.