They’re inescapable. But they aren’t all bad.
Customers don’t complain because your business stinks. Customers complain because they’re expectations aren’t being met. The great thing – and yes, there’s a great thing – about customer complaints is that they can provide you with valuable knowledge regarding your customer base.
While it’s true this knowledge isn’t always delivered in the loveliest of ways, important nuggets of business value are still there.
Your job is to embrace the value of customer complaints.
1. Get Very Personal without Your Emotions
At the moment you learn of your customer’s complaint, you might sense your heart rate increase or feel heat rush to your face.
After all, people are usually fairly passionate about making their opinions known. If they’re aiming some type of negative opinion or criticism in your direction, your blood might just boil for a minute or two.
And that’s fine. You are a human.
But, for you and your customer to gain anything from the problem situation, you’ll need to move past your emotions for the benefit of your continued relationship.
In fact, you’ve got to put on your professional game face and get very personal without your emotions leading the way.
What do I mean by “get personal”? I mean you’re going to have to encourage the customer to keep expressing themselves.
No, you may not want to hear it. But, retaining that customer and improving your business practices might depend on whether you choose to entertain this interaction or not.
So, to start, thank them for taking the time to share their concerns with you and encourage a deeper explanation of the complaint.
2. Get Skilled in the Art of Validating
Validating is acknowledging how a person feels. It’s like the turbocharged version of listening. It’s a skill takes listening and understanding up a couple of notches.
In fact, validation and active listening go hand-in-hand. When you validate how a customer feels it makes them feel like they’re valuable to you. You are basically telling them that their happiness and satisfaction are a priority. And, people love that.
From the customer satisfaction standpoint, it’s probably obvious why encouraging this feeling is so important. Hearing out a customer complaint is an enormous window of opportunity to show your customer how much you want them and their business.
So, how do you do it?
As mentioned before, you pay special attention. You confirm exactly what the customer is telling you by repeating their complaint back to them.
Granted, you might have to sort through a barrage of expletives, rants, or random rabbit trails about why they’re dissatisfied. But, hang in there. The best part of resolving customer complaints is yet to come (next up).
3. Be Open-Minded about Offering Your Support
The greatest part of customer complaints is that you get to be extremely creative in fixing the problem.
While this might not seem like any fun to some people, it’s really your time to shine.
There’s not always a one size fits all resolution to customer complaints. After you’ve wrapped your brain around the actual problem, you’ve got to be creative in fixing it.
Not only do you need to make amends with the customer, but you have to examine your workflow and see if repairs need to be made there, as well.
For an independent professional, coming to a resolution often means that you and the customer compromise by coming up with a reasonable solution together.
If you can nail the resolution and reestablish trust then there’s a good chance you’ve got a customer for life.