6 Tips on Responding to Customer Complaints

Customer Complaints Feature Image
Image by: kev-shine
By Dexter Lunde

When you have to deal with customers, your job gets infinitesimally more difficult. You’ll get personality clashed between your team and your customers or clients. You’ll get customer complaints about products. Customers will accidentally injure themselves in your store. The problems that you have will multiply.

However, it is a necessary evil to engage with customers if you want to sell your product or service to them — even if it is through e-mail only or if you have to see them face to face.

No matter who you are, what service or product you provide, and what quality level you offer (only the best, I’m sure), you will eventually have to deal with customer complaints. When you first handle them, you may feel targeted and defensive. Don’t think that way.

Remember that they’re not directing their anger or frustration at you personally. You just happen to be there. If this had happened with a different product from a different company, they would have been just as angry or frustrated and turned their sights to someone else.

So how are you supposed to deal with customer complaints? Here are my best tips for properly handling complaints so that both you and your customers will leave the situation happy and satisfied.

#1) Actively Listen

Sometimes customers just want to be heard. It may be a quick replacement, exchange, or a refund but it may also be accompanied with the story about how her cat decided to hop up on the counter and attack the product as if it were an intruder in the home. Whatever the story, hear it out until the end. Don’t interrupt them.

After exchanging, refunding, or replacing the product, perhaps you can even take a picture of it and caption it…

“Apparently not ‘bodyguard cat’-proof. Working on making newer expansions and editions talon and claw resistant. I’m thinking chainmail…”

…to put on your website. The customer may appreciate the humor and will likely come back because of it.

#2) Show Gratitude

Even if it’s something that you can’t solve at that moment or if it is something which is out of your control, thank your customer for bringing the problem to your attention. It is necessary for various problems to be brought to light even if it sends you back to the drawing board. That’s the only way that you can improve on it and expand.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin talked about why he loved angry customers in an Inc.com interview…

”Customer feedback is great for telling you what you did wrong. It’s terrible at telling you what you should do next.”

#3) Treat Every Customer Like They are a Stock-Holder

Not only that, treat them like they are a celebrity because (in a sense) they are a celebrity. If you treat them well and as if they have a large following, they will bring their following (their friends and family) in with them the next time. They will tell “their following” just how amazing their experience was and their friends and family will be more willing to check out your storefront or website.

#4) Record Meaningful Complaints

I’m not talking about the customers who just want a free product or call to complain that your prices are too high. Don’t worry about those customers because every company gets those calls. I’m talking about the customers who can give you helpful advice and show you troubleshooting problems such as:

“I can’t figure out how to work your website.” (Find out where the miscommunication is on the website and fix it.)

“I don’t know how to trigger this feature or where it is…” (Perhaps the next design can have those features be more accessible and easier to get to.)

If more than one customer are calling or messaging you about one specific problem, those are the ones that you should assess. Recording and organizing your meaningful complaints will allow you to compile them and send them to your research and development team (which may just be you) for your next design or edition of the current product.

#5) Don’t Be Sarcastic

It is really easy to be sarcastic and passive aggressive toward belligerent customers. It may feel satisfying to you but it’s not going to help the situation. In fact, it’s probably going to make the situation worse.

If you have a card next to the customer service phone, which has phrases that your team members need to say to your complaining customers (“I’m sorry that you’re having this problem.” “Your problem is very important to us.”), throw it away. When they read those over the phone, they can come off as passive-aggressive and that will make the customers even more angry.

#6) Ask Questions

Make sure that you ask questions that will help clarify the problem and help you and your customer come to a conclusion.

In addition to that, use supportive questioning after you solve the problem to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

“How else can I help you today?”

Lastly, verify the resolution in a follow-up notification. Let them know that you’re going to call them or message them in a couple of days or a week to make sure that everything is still running smoothly. This will help you and the customer. You can ensure that your customer service team is working efficiently and that your customers are satisfied.