Customer complaints are inevitable. Try as hard as you might to please everyone, there will eventually be something that falls through the cracks, mistakes made, or deadlines missed. Sometimes you may be fortunate enough to catch the problem before your customer notices and handle it ahead of time. Other times, you’ll receive a call or email from a dissatisfied customer and you’ll need to be ready to address the issue on the spot.

The way your business manages customer disputes can either significantly boost your customer loyalty or send them running to your competitors. Handle customer complaints well and you may find yourself with an advocate who promotes your business everywhere they go. Genuine, word-of-mouth promotion by a satisfied customer can be an incredible boost for your business. There is a lot of potential for a positive outcome if you’re prepared to address the concerns of your customer in a positive way.

Here is a step-by-step plan for realizing that potential:

Listen

Take the time to listen to the entire concern from the customer. Interrupting will only cause them more frustration. Take a deep breath and remember that they are not attacking you personally; reacting in a defensive manner will escalate the conversation unnecessarily. The goal is to give them the best possible experience and, in doing so, ensure their loyalty to your company.

Ask questions

It’s important to be sure you understand their perspective. Show the customer that you were listening by asking reflective questions. You will be able to deliver a better outcome when you understand why they are upset and where they’re coming from. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

Apologize

Even if the mistake was unintentional or not your fault, you can apologize for their dissatisfaction. A sincere apology can go a long way to diffuse the problem and help the customer feel like they are being taken seriously. Don’t try to make excuses or pass the blame, taking responsibility immediately will build trust with the customer and assure them that you will do your best to address their concerns.

Say thank you

Why? For the opportunity to address their concerns and retain them as a customer. Many dissatisfied customers will not take the time to communicate the problem to you; instead they will immediately take their business to someone else – most likely your competitors.

Offer

Give the customer an opportunity to tell you what they see as an acceptable outcome. Often, they may not have thought that far ahead and will appreciate that you would take their expectations into consideration. Offering your customer space to think through a solution will give them some insight into your side of the matter. Knowing their expectations ahead of time will help you determine a fair solution and give you opportunity to exceed their expectations for the best possible customer service experience.

 Solve the problem

Once you are able to determine the course of action needed to leave the customer happy and satisfied with an outcome that will exceed their expectations, complete it immediately. If at all possible issue refunds, send replacements or send a discount for future services while you’re still speaking with the customer. Efficiency in handling the solution will remove space for the customer to remain frustrated or unhappy with your business.

If you are a small business owner, chances are you don’t have a fully staffed customer service department – but you can have a friendly receptionist with personalized call answering, a professional voice mailbox, call redirecting and more with a virtual office. Huntsville Hub offers great solutions for small businesses to help manage the day-to-day tasks, as well as the more difficult situations that are bound to arise, such as customer disputes. 

A virtual office from Huntsville Hub offers professionalism to small businesses at an affordable monthly cost. Not only can you have the behind-the-scenes benefits of a virtual office, such as a prestigious business address, on-demand administrative support and mail collection and forwarding, you can also have a fully furnished office space to bring clients. At Huntsville Hub this also includes kitchen space with complimentary beverages, an upscale lobby and reception area, and a variety of meeting and conference rooms.

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