No small business owner likes dealing with an unhappy customer. However, it’s part of what you signed up for.
Customers are eventually bound to share a complaint about your business. Therefore, it’s good to stay ahead of things and prep yourself for it happening. The worst thing you can do is believe you will never receive complaints about your business.
Here are some tips to help you deal with customer complaints as gracefully as possible:
1. Respond Quickly
Even if you don’t have an answer to a complaint, you must acknowledge any mistakes that were made. On social media, in particular, posting genuine apologies as a follow-up is a must. Customers making the complaint will appreciate you taking the time to respond to them. Your customers want to know someone is working on their problem.
2. Put Your Emotions Aside
The best thing you can do about an upset customer is to not let your own emotions stand in the way. Listen to what the customer is saying with a calm attitude. Whatever the case may be, don’t respond with anger and don’t attempt to match wits. Take the high road and maintain a polite tone. And, don’t get into a back-and-forth with an upset customer in a public forum like social media.
3. Don’t Ignore Them
Whatever you do, don’t delete the complaint from a social media message, unless or it’s profane or offensive. If you ignore the complaint, it could become worse. If possible, provide their originally requested resolution or an alternative you have proposed.
4. Have Some Flexibility
If there isn’t a resolution to the complaint, find a way to make them happy. You could make it a policy to have gift cards available, if applicable. No matter what, after all has been discussed, ask your customer if you helped them in the manner they were seeking.
5. Follow Up After Complaint
Having someone in upper management follow up with customers in a 24- to 48-hour window of time is another way to show the customer that you care about their complaint. Getting a personal phone call from someone in charge will go a long way to getting them back as a repeat customer. Ask a lot of questions to understand the customer’s expectations and where your business fell short. Listening to the customer will get you the right answers so you can handle the complaint effectively.
6. Learn From What Happened
If customer complaints are occurring routinely, determine why they’re happening. All businesses should have a plan to handle complaints. Customer complaints can be stressful, awkward and just plain annoying. Still, be thankful for them. Someone took the time and energy to tell you how you could improve your business.
Always thank customers for their feedback, even if it’s negative. Without it, you wouldn’t know how to provide good services to keep them coming back. Embrace the complaint and use the insight to improve the experience for everyone that does business with you.