As a customer care service agent or business person, you would have to address the complaints of your customers whenever the need arises. Although email has been progressively gaining grounds as a means of communication in business, telephone is still very much in vogue. Therefore, handling customers’ complaints effectively on the phone is vital for succeeding in business.
Handling customers’ complaints effectively during a phone conversation requires carefully executed strategies. Anyone can answer a business phone call and speak to a client, but not everyone can answer it and address a client’s complaint effectively, and leave that client satisfied. Having satisfied customers is one of the backbones of any thriving business venture.
One major difference between a thriving business and the one that is not thriving is the way they handle the complaints of their customers. The former takes time to address aggrieved customers, while the later feels that clients can never be pleased, thereby, taking them for granted. Every company that hopes to succeed must understand the practical way of handling customers’ complaints effectively; every complaint should be addressed thoroughly.
Benefits of Handling Customers’ Complaints Effectively
If you can successfully address a client’s complaint effectively, your company is likely to enjoy some real benefits. Below are some of these benefits that you may not really be aware of:
If a customer’s initial complaint was addressed properly and he or she was satisfied with your services, that customer is likely to patronize you again. Though that client initially had a qualm with you, you have proved that you can handle bad situations in a professional manner, hence, they will likely believe that it is safer to do business with you, because if any error arose (which can happen in any company), you can deal with it.
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This is the next level following trust. Customers graduate from trust to loyalty over time. When you are able to meet their needs regularly and consistently, you would earn their loyalty eventually. Handling customers’ complaints appropriately is part of meeting their needs. Inasmuch as you should endeavor to minimize errors from your company (to minimize complaints), it is important to understand effective strategies for handling customers’ complaints to gain loyal clients.
This is the next step after loyalty. A client that has become loyal to your company is likely to give you free publicity. That is, the customer will recommend you to family and friends for free! This is what you gain from having satisfied loyal clients. They have gone beyond just trusting you and being loyal, but now they want others to enjoy what they have been enjoying. Just by doing your part effectively, you can achieve this.
Eventually, your company will be known to be effective in satisfying their customers. This is possible in any industry. You can build your customer satisfying reputation to the point that this stands you out in your business sector. Of course, this will take a long time to achieve, however, it is possible. And a key factor in achieving this is handling customers’ complaints effectively during a business phone call.
Guidelines on Handling Customers’ Complaints
To have a basic knowledge of how to answer and handle business phone calls, see our article on Business Phone Call Etiquette. It will also give you an overview of the requirements of having an efficient and effective business phone conversation.
Get the Right Attitude
The key in effectively handling customers’ complaints is having the right attitude. View their complaints as voluntary feedbacks which will provide you with information that will help your company to improve its services. In essence, welcome customers’ complaints. Stop assuming that they just want to mess up your day and get you angry.
Your customers are complaining because they have real issues with your products or services, at least most of them do. They just want to let you know what they are going through and hopefully get it fixed. It will do your company a great good to understand the problems and get them resolved and find ways to ensure that other clients do not have similar issues.
Clearly, there are times when the customer could be totally unreasonable. In such situations, apologize and ask how you could help solve the problem. If the customer is impossible, ensure the conversation remains friendly and professional. Resolve such impossible cases using the policy provided by your company on how to handle them.
Finally, while on a telephone conversation with your customer, ensure you are writing down the points that they are making. Even if you feel your memory is excellent, still do this. There may be a day that it may just fail you and cause a major crisis between you and your client. You may have brief jottings, nothing elaborate, to just help you remember the points when you want to start addressing them.
Listening is vital in handling customers’ complaints. When you pay rapt attention, you would be able to understand the situation you are going to address. Besides this, the customer will know that you are genuinely interested in handling his or her complaints when you pay attention. It is rude to ask or insinuate that the client should hurry up with his or her complaints.
Listening gives you the advantage of studying the customer and understanding the issue. Listening allows you to make a quick assessment of the kind of person you are dealing with, hence, how to best handle him or her. When you understand the problem that the customer has and the personality of the customer, it will be easier to handle the issue effectively.
You will have to be ready to be more patient with very displeased clients. See our article on Business Phone Call: Handling an Angry Client to further understand how to deal with angry customers. However, in your experience, you would find out that most customers are reasonable. Whether or not a client is very displeased, avoid interrupting them, except you need an immediate clarification; and do so very politely.
Sample Script 1: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“I am so sorry to interrupt you, madam, I didn’t quite get your last statement…”
Verify the Facts
After listening to the client’s complaints patiently, repeat what he or she said to verify you got all the information correctly. This is done for basically two reasons. First, it shows the client that you care to understand what he or she is going through. Second, it helps you clarify the facts so that you will be sure of what you are dealing with.
Here you would see why it is good to have notes that you can read from when repeating the client’s complaints to get clarification. When you jot down small notes, you will get most of the information, this will save time and also leave a good impression in the mind of the customer.
Sample Script 2: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“Madam, I am so sorry for the inconvenience you’ve experienced, you mentioned that your bathtub started leaking just two days after you purchased it from the company and this has led to your entire home being flooded, please is this correct madam?”
You cannot give too much of this. Basically, you should put yourself in the client’s shoes. Sincerely consider how you would like to be treated if you were in the client’s position. This will help you show empathy. You will need to communicate this to the customer in an effective and sensible way.
Sample Script 3: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“Madam, I can imagine how difficult and embarrassing this could be for you, it’s so sad, I will do my very best to ensure that the company makes up for the pain you went through. Please, keep in mind that your satisfaction is our topmost priority.”
If indeed the company was at fault, there is no need trying to manipulate the situation. Simply admit the fault and reassure the client that something concrete will be done about his or her current problem and that future occurrence will be prevented. However, do not be too quick to admit blame. If you are in doubt about who to blame, simply just keep apologizing and ensure that the issue is resolved.
The company may need to carry out an investigation if the situation is one that requires refund or that may lead to a lawsuit. Hence, only accept faults if the situation is simple and straightforward and in situations in which the company’s faults were clear and visible to all.
Sample Script 4: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“We sincerely apologize for this situation. The company conducts a thorough inspection of all our bathtubs before shipment. We will look into how this happened and ensure that it does not happen again.”
Offer Real Solutions
Empathy and accepting the company’s faults are not enough. Ensure you provide a quick and practical solution(s) to the client’s challenge(s). Avoid sounding uncertain about the solution(s) you are proffering. For instance, do not say, “Maybe you could do it this way” or “Let’s try and if that works”. The customer did not call you to gamble his chances of being helped, he called to get a solution to his or her problem. If you are unable to help, quickly transfer the customer to someone who can.
Sample Script 5: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“I am sending this query to the quality assurance unit, and they will send a team over to your home to clean up and replace the leaking bathtub.”
“Madam, to ensure a speedy solution to this problem, I am transferring you to a specialist, please hold just for a moment, than you.”
Show gratitude to any customer that has taken time to lodge complaints. They could have as well kept quiet and gone elsewhere. Therefore, thank them for calling, and for just being a customer. Also bear in mind that they have provided feedback on your products or services. This will help you work on areas that you previously did not detect issues.
Sample Script 6: Handling Customers’ Complaints
“Thank you so much for calling, we sincerely appreciate your patronage.”
Deciding the right phrase to handle different situations can be very tasking. As a correspondent, you are directly involved in critical day-to-day interactions via email. This makes your ability to craft good email messages, using the perfect phrases and clauses, tangential to your business success.
There is a book by Meryl Runion that will help you to a great extent:
Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals: Hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for getting respect, recognition, and results in today’s workplace
Overall, this book will greatly improve your communication skills. It will also help you easily clarify assignments with your manager or projects with your clients as well as guide you in handling the inevitable complaints that sometimes follow sales of products or services.