Raise your hand if you’ve been stressed out by horrible customer service and have sworn off that company for good (coupled by complaining about them on Facebook). Addressing customer complaints is a crucial yet often neglected part of running a business. Reputation matters whether you’re a big company with global branding or a small business that just got your own domain name. Knowing how to deal with complaints properly can get you back into a customer’s good graces and avert a potential PR disaster.
Here’s what not to do:
Bad feedback can be tough and at times cruel but you can’t sweep them under the rug. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. It’ll just drive your customer even madder, which will make things worse. Deal with it head on.
When something goes wrong, people want it fixed right away. You may not always be able to do that. But the next best thing you can do is apologize unequivocally and provide a clear explanation about the problem. Firing off a generic reply is annoying. It also gives the impression that you’re clueless about the issue and are therefore not competent enough to solve it.
What you can do instead is to be honest as far as it is reasonable. Explain clearly what went wrong and what you’re doing to resolve it. If possible, give a specific time frame on when it will be fixed.
If you’ve ever been in an infuriating exchange with customer support people who sound like they have severe cerebral problems, then you know how big of a problem this is. The client support personnel are on the frontlines and should represent your business well.
If they can’t do a good job on this, then your business is in trouble. Hire people who are creative problem solvers and can remain calm and diplomatic in the face of a furious customer. Invest in good employee training to equip them with the proper skills. This will pay off in the long term.
Merely offering profuse apologies without making things right will not work. Take concrete actions that address the customer’s concerns and make sure the solutions you provide are actually sensible and effective. This shows that you’re sincere in helping them and in correcting the mistakes and shortcomings on your end.
Unless it’s completely unreasonable, negative feedbacks are often a signal that there is a problem in your business that must be addressed. Do you often get complaints about your products? You may have to tighten quality control. Does your company website get flak for its numerous downtimes? You may need to get a new web hosting provider. Look for permanent solutions to problems instead of relying on haphazard remedies that won’t fix things in the long run.
It’s never a good thing when people complain about your business but what matters more is how you handle these complaints and the actions you take in resolving the problems.