No matter how impeccably a business is run, complaints are bound to happen. Clients will call you, angered by a "mistake you made", a billing error...the list goes on and on. How these situations are handled can make or break a business.
When the inevitable complaints come, it's natural to get defensive and explain why the person's complaint is wrong or even ridiculous--but that isn’t likely to resolve the problem or satisfy the client’s complaint.
Instead, you can embrace each criticism you get, whether from employee or customer, as an opportunity to strengthen a relationship. Remember that a person who complains probably has interest in continuing his relationship with you--and will do so, if you efficiently handle the problem.
The following four tips --uncomplicated, yet effective in nearly every situation--will help you defuse complaints and turn an unhappy person into a loyal fan.
1. LISTEN WITH AN OPEN MIND.
Hear what the person has to say without prejudging the situation. Let the person speak his mind fully, without interruption and without questioning the validity of the problem. Before you say anything, you should fully understand what has happened and precisely why the person is upset.
2. REPEAT THE PROBLEM BACK.
Once you see where the complaint is coming from, repeat it back in your own words so the person knows you've grasped her position. She might correct you on a few points, but keep parroting her position back to her until she acknowledges that you've gotten it right.
3. EMPATHIZE AND ASSURE THAT *SOMETHING* WILL BE DONE.
Most often, people with complaints want to know what they are saying matters. The WORST thing to say is pretty much anything that might give the impression that you simply don't care
Without admitting any fault on the part of the company or placing blame on anyone, say this:
I’m sorry to hear your experience wasn’t great. I can understand your reaction and I want to do what I can to make it right. Let me see what I can do . I'll check into this further and get back to you with a solution as soon as possible.
Showing your sincere empathy will help neutralize any anger the person feels. In the vast majority of cases, you'll be amazed by how quickly this assurance calms the person.
4. FOLLOW UP PROMPTLY.
As soon as possible, follow up with a report on what went wrong and the steps you plan to take to rectify the situation and prevent it from happening again. In some cases, you may even wish to send a small gift as a token of thanks for the person's help in improving your business.
The goal of this process is to show the client that you truly care about his/ her satisfaction--and ultimately their continued patronage.