The Blessings in Customer Complaints
When a customer calls to tell your company that they are unhappy with something, look at this as a blessing. It is a blessing because they are bringing their perception, which is their reality, to you and giving you a chance to shift this perception before they take their business elsewhere and you lose a valuable customer.
It is also a blessing as often customers can point out what didn't serve them allowing you to make your systems or operations more customer-friendly. If customers didn't complain, you wouldn't be able to improve your business. Just as managers are not served if surrounded by "yes men", businesses are not served by customers who rather than complain, just walk to the competition without saying a word.
To hear the customer fully, do the following:
1. Listen without being defensive. Assume the customer is RIGHT and distance yourself from your pride in the company. Listen objectively, not subjectively. Listen although the company was some other company you were not associated with. Don't take it personally.
2. Ask questions. Gain as much information and understanding as you can so you fully understand and have clarified what exactly the customer is saying and how they are feeling. Repeat back to them so they are also assured that you understand.
3. Understand expectations: Find out how the customer would handle this or prefer this to be. Ask them about their expectations and what would be right for them. Be prepared to negotiate what can and can't be done and find a way to appease the customer.
4. Tell the customer exactly how their complaint will be handled so they know you are taking it seriously. Ask them if they want feedback on the outcome or if they are satisfied that the company will take steps to handle their complaint in the agreed manner. (Realize that some issues will require customer feedback while others, which may be operational in nature, may not.)
5. Be grateful. Thank the customer for what you have learned and for sharing with you. Reassure them that you consider them a valued customer and to always feel free to come forward with issues that concern them.
Finish your conversation on good terms. Never rise to baits, do not raise your voice or speak disrespectfully. It is easier and cheaper to do business with an existing client then it is to have to market to find new clients!