HOW TO MANAGE COMPLAINTS WELL
The moment you become a service provider, you have to face the fact that someone might not like your service or your business method and she/he will express that. Complaints are simply inevitable. Of course, you try to convince yourself that this can never happen to you, but it’s statistically impossible not to have unsatisfied customers time to time. And be honest, how many times have you been unhappy with a service or product you paid for? I had my fair share, that’s for sure.
I grew up in Europe, more precisely in Eastern Europe, where complaining was considered to be rebellious, somehow unacceptable. “You got what you got and better to keep your mouth shut or you could even lose the little you have.” That was the normal way of life. Personally, I don’t blame them after 40 years of Soviet occupation, but this just doesn’t work in the Western world. I learned that while living in the UK. So, I started to express my disagreement, so will your customer.
Having a complaint is not the end of the world. Try thinking of it as a different opinion that you should be open for, or as a source of knowledge as Bill Gates said.
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Here is what I have learned about managing complaints by being the one complaining. (I refer to my unpleasant experience with a big furniture shop from where I bought a coach a couple of months ago. And well, it didn’t go smoothly….)
Don’t ignore it.
Not dealing with the complaint will not make it go away, no matter how much you want that. The complaint needs to be addressed and answered, so the customer can have an overall positive picture of your company in the end. Maybe she/he was not fully satisfied, but was taken care of and that leaves a good impression.
Ask yourself: How would you feel if the tables were turned? Wouldn’t you want some understanding, a little bit of support? I guess, you would. So, don’t treat the unhappy customers or any customers as an enemy, but try to put yourself in their shoes.
Inform the customer about the next steps.
Needless to say that you should try to find a solution. Now, I can imagine circumstances where nothing can be done, but that needs to be communicated clearly as well. Nothing is worse than leaving the clients in the dark. Tell them exactly what you are going to do, when you will come back to them and what the possible outcomes are.
No matter what kind of business field you work in. It can be web design and development or selling furniture, complaints WILL occur. Not because you are not good enough, but because people are different, so are their needs and their expectations. If you manage them in a professional way, they can provide valuable lessons to learn.
What is the worst complaint management you have ever experienced? Let’s learn from others’ mistakes.