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Whether you’re working for a business or own one, customer service is your job. That means you will inevitably deal with customer complaints. Encounters with customers ready to fly into a rage are never fun. Unfortunately, they can’t be avoided.

How do you handle bad-tempered customers or even nice ones when they bring complaints to you? Read these answering service tips to find out.

Handling Customer Complaints

#1: Listen to the Customer

When a customer comes to you with a complaint, the best thing you can do is listen. Let them air their frustrations and annoyances. Above all, let them finish. Interrupting them mid-complaint will never be constructive.

Most unhappy customers fall into one of three categories.

1. They are afraid to say something and fear you might not listen.
2. They feel they have been wronged and aren’t sure if you care. 3. They know they have been wronged and want you to fix it.

No matter how mild-mannered or angry a person may be, make it a rule to listen. You will earn their trust and gain their appreciation.

#2: Confirm What You Heard

After the customer has finished speaking, confirm what you heard them say. Restating what you understand is critical. This process shows the customer that you weren’t just waiting until they finished talking. It shows them that you actually listened.

Start with, “So what you’re saying is…” and end with, “… Is that correct?” Here are some examples.

A complaint about a sale: "So what you’re saying is that an employee told you the sale ran through the end of the week even though it ended today. Is that correct?”

A warranty frustration: “What I hear you are saying is that you understood the warranty covered your broken item. Is that correct?”

Fact-checking for correct understanding goes a long way in helping ease tension, frustration, and ensures you have the situation correct.

#3: Thank the Customer

Many complaints never reach you. Customers will often tell their Facebook friends and Twitter followers about a negative experience before they come to you.

Why does this matter? It turns others away from coming to your establishment. You won’t know about the problem. And you could lose a customer for life.

So:

If a customer comes with a legitimate problem, thank them! They’ve allowed you to turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Handling an issue well encourages most customers to return. They’ll even tell others how you dealt with the situation, which leads to more people coming to your business. Get the picture?

Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. By doing so, you’ve been alerted to a problem you can fix.

#4: Offer a Solution

Customers complain so a problem can get fixed. This is where your cool head and level thinking come into play. If you can solve their issue within reason and in compliance with your company’s policy, by all means, do so! Turning a disgruntled customer into a happy one produces a customer for life.

If you need to hand off the customer to a manager, explain what you’re doing and why.

Explain:

1. It’s in their best interest to get a manager.
2. You are trying to solve their issue but don’t have enough clearance.
3. You earnestly want to help them, and talking with a manager is the best way to do it.

By explaining the process and why you’re handing them off, they won’t feel like you’re dumping their issue on someone else and running away.

#5: Follow Up

After you’ve solved the problem, where possible, follow up with the customer.

- Send an email asking if they are satisfied with the solution.

- Make a call if the situation warrants it. Ask them if you can do anything else and thank them for their business.

Small gestures go a long way in retaining customers and reinforcing positive experiences.

#6: Organize and Record

For all legitimate complaints, organize and record them. If there’s a trend, you’ll be able to see it quickly. If multiple claims are coming in about one of your staff, it may point to a problem.

Keeping a record will help you analyze your business and adjust where necessary. Keep a record of how you solved problems, as well. Documentation is always beneficial should a customer bring up a prior complaint.

Are You Ready?

As you can see from this article, handling customer complaints can be accomplished efficiently and professionally. By listening, recognizing the issue, and doing what you can to satisfy your customer, you can quickly turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Are you ready for the next customer complaint that comes your way? Be sure to save this article for future reference!