If you work in customer service or more specifically, a call center, chances are you've dealt with customer complaints before. And if you haven't, don't worry, your time is coming.
Customer complaints range from people who are mildly annoyed to those who are in a rage, and you have to know how to effectively deal with each one to resolve the situation, make the customer happy, and leave them with a good feeling about the company you're representing.
In this article, we look at how you can handle customer complaints to accomplish the above, so you and the customer walk away satisfied at the resolution.
Steps to Handling Customer Complaints
When you get a dissatisfied or angry customer, it's easy for you to lose your cool too, which only worsens the situation. However, you can make the interaction go more smoothly if you keep these tips in mind.
- Stay Calm If you have an angry customer, the last thing you want to do is to worsen the situation by becoming irate yourself. This is easier said than done because in most cases, the customer is yelling at you or saying nasty things to you. But in reality, they're mad at the company, not you in particular, and it's easy to forget that when you're interacting. So, no matter how upset they are, or what they say, keep a calm demeanor. Often, when they see you react in a relaxed manner, they calm down too. Now, if they're verbally abusive or threatening violence, then you need to politely tell them that behavior isn't justified and that if they don't calm down, you'll have to end the call.
- Listen & Empathize To bring a person's level of frustration down, it's essential you listen to their problem and empathize with it. Many times, a person is at the end of their rope, and they feel no one is listening to them about their issue. So, validate their problem and tell them they have a right to be upset about the poor service or the broken item or whatever. You can even share an anecdote about something that went wrong with a service or product you ordered to let them know exactly how they feel. This goes a long way to bringing down the tension so you can solve their issue more quickly.
- Acknowledge the Problem The worst thing you can do is to act like the customer's problem doesn't exist or that it's somehow their fault (even if it is). So, whatever their problem is, treat it the way you'd like to be treated if the roles were reversed. Also, don't offer excuses — they don't want to hear it, instead, accept the problem and apologize for the issue.
- Get the Facts You can't help the customer if you don't have all of the information, so have them to tell you everything that's wrong and how they think it got to that state. The more information you have, the better the solution you can find or at least direct them to the proper department that can solve their particular issue.
- Offer a Solution Don't let the customer go without offering a solution to their problem. Remember, they're calling you because they need help, and if you turn them away without guiding them, you've lost a customer, and they'll be sure to tell everyone about their experience. If you don't have the answer, tell them you'll get it or direct them to someone who does have the answer. And if you can't get the solution right away, offer to call back once you have an idea that can help them. If you can't get them an immediate answer, offer something to compensate them for their problem.; this could be a free month of service, a voucher, or some other kind of token to make the situation better. Lastly, don't offer a solution that won't work to get them off the phone or tell them what they want to hear, because they'll call back with the same problem.
- Thank Them Whether you were able to solve their problem or not during the call, it's essential you thank them for bringing the issue to your attention and make sure they know you value their input. Many people feel large companies don't care about them or the problems they have with a product or service, so it's vital you do all you can to make them feel like they're helping to rectify a problem or making the company aware of a concern.
What to do When the Customer is Irate?
Sometimes, when the customer calls, they are angry to the point they're yelling or using foul language. When this happens, it's difficult to look past their hostility and see the underlying issue.
As mentioned above, one of the best ways to diffuse a situation with an angry caller is to be as kind and respectful as possible and to acknowledge their problem. Don't tell them it's their fault, even if it is, and don't offer excuses.
Also, some customers are more difficult to calm down than others, so when you get one who's difficult, it's helpful to explain that you can't help them if you can't have a respectful conversation about the problem. Acknowledge their anger, but try and bring the tension down so you can better resolve the issue. Most people are okay after they're able to vent their frustrations, however, if you get someone who won't settle down or becomes abusive or threatens violence, explain that you can't continue the conversation if they don't settle down.
Dealing with angry and upset callers is part and parcel of the customer service industry, so it's wise to practice the techniques discussed above to remain calm and talk someone down from their anger and into a productive conversation to get them the help they need. Remember, most people want help and for their issue to be acknowledged, and if you can do those things, you're on your way to diffusing a bad situation and keeping a customer happy.