As unpleasant as they may be, customer complaints can be extremely valuable to you and your team. Not only can they provide you with a host of insights regarding your communications infrastructure, but they also give you the opportunity to improve your customer retention ratios-- one fuming, frustrated customer at a time. Here are three ways to transform a complaint into a returning customer.
Listen and Validate
Not all customers who call in to complain about your product or service are genuinely dissatisfied with it. Often, they just want someone to hear them out. Before you begin to draw conclusions about whether or not a customer is being completely unreasonable, remind yourself that it doesn't matter.
The customer is always right.
Listen for the problem, not the solution. The solution will become apparent to the both of you as you continue to communicate with the customer. In the interim, obtaining a clear understanding of where they feel the meat of the problem lies will enable you to validate their concerns.
Apologize immediately for any frustration that the situation has caused the customer and thank them for bringing the problem to your attention. Ask any questions that you need to in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue to which they now seek resolution. Apologize once again and continue to gather information.
Determine the Needs of The Customer
Customers usually have a course in mind when they call in. Not all customers reach out to the customer service department for monetary compensation. It goes without saying though, that they are to be compensated in some way for whatever inconveniences they've experienced.
Determine the course that the customer would take in a perfect world. If there was a problem with the delivery, was the product itself satisfactory to the customer? If the wrong item was shipped to the customer by mistake, would they like to exchange the item for what they had initially ordered, or would they prefer the refund?
If you bear in mind that the customer made the initial purchase with the understanding that it would solve a problem they had, you can begin to work toward bringing as much of that ideal as possible to the resolution.
What, if anything, is the customer after?
Work the Problem
Fast-track the solution to the customer's complaint through the proper channels. This means fulfilling the order yourself and overseeing its execution. Include free express shipping in your compensation package. Express shipping ensures that the customer knows you care about bringing the situation to resolution quickly. Covering the cost of shipping with special considerations shows the customer that you are willing to compensate them for their frustrations with something more personal than 50% off their next purchase, provided they choose to make one.
Ultimately, customer complaints afford you the opportunity to transform a disgruntled consumer into a returning customer. Listening to the customer carefully and apologizing, determining the customer's needs and including monetary considerations in your compensation package can help you nurture continued business relationships with valuable customers.
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