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Customer complaints: how to trump the grump

Customer Complaints: How to Trump the Grump

To my customer,

I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it!

I may not have the time, but I’ll make it!

Yes, this is the essence of managing customer complaints. A satisfied customer is the lifeline for any business. However, in real life it is not possible to keep your customers happy always. Even the best run businesses face problems or make mistakes which might cause customer dissatisfaction. While unhappy customers will and must complain, customer oriented businesses will and must tend to them! While no one likes a whiner, you must realize that customer complaints can actually be turned to your advantage. Viewing the complaint as an opportunity to gain insight that will help you improve takes you a step closer to ensuring customer loyalty.

Following are the two direct benefits for your business when you take good care of customer complaints:

1. Improvement: There’s no smoke without fire. If a customer is complaining, chances are that there is a real problem somewhere. Listening to the complaint will allow you to look for solutions.

2. Image: When you provide quick solutions, it shows your respect for the customer and makes him or her feel valued. In turn, the customer believes that you can be relied upon, even when things go wrong. What more can you ask for?

But, there is a third, much larger benefit that effective complaint handling can bring to your business. Research proves that customers who had problems that were satisfactorily solved are generally much more loyal than those who are simply happy with your product. So, how do you go about converting a complaining customer into a captive one?

Pay Attention: The best way to make dejected customers feel good is by listening to them. This shows that you care. Be friendly, polite, and helpful; and try your best to solve the problem. Even if a problem is not completely solved, the fact that your business did everything to help will make the customer feel much better about it. Sometimes you may find it difficult to help irate customers especially when the problem is not caused from your side – no matter what, grin and bear it, because the customer is always right.

Offer a Solution: Try offering a solution, always. If you cannot fix the problem right away, at least let them know that you are trying. Or choose between the following options:

1. Replace – Offer a replacement for a defective product. If an exact replacement is not available, suggest an alternative model. This might cost you a bit, but you get to keep your customer.

2. Refund – If a customer is disappointed with your product or service, he may want a refund. While this means loss of revenue, it may be the best solution at the time. In case of a minor complaint, a partial refund may douse the fire.

3. Discount – Sometimes you can offer the customer discount coupons that could be redeemed on their next purchase. This will ensure that they return to you, while also minimizing financial loss.

4. Apologize – An apology works like a charm almost always. In fact, do this first! It can be a verbal regret for minor problems, or a written apology for bigger issues. Don’t let your ego stand in the way.

While we’ve given you a bird’s eye view, books like ‘Resolve customer complaints’, ‘Dealing with customer complaints’ and ‘6 ways to benefit from customer complaints’ are great for gaining further insight.

Finally, we leave you with a thought from Peter Drucker. “The single most important thing about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.”

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