Your 6 Step Guide to Handling Customer Complaints

Whether you made a mistake on an order, your supplier made a mistake on an order or your customer just isn’t happy with the product, you’d be hard-pressed to find a distributor that hasn’t received a complaint in their years of business. Here’s the bad news: how you handle a customer complaint can affect the reputation of your business for years to come. It only takes one negative experience for them to steer prospective customers away from you.

So, what’s the good news? We’ve put together a 6-step process to ensure that one complaint doesn’t rock your business’ boat:

1. Acknowledge and Apologize

The moment a concern, mistake or complaint is brought to your attention, assure your customer that their complaint is real and their opinion is valid. Be sincere in your apology and monitor your tone as to not come across as dismissive. This is your opportunity to show your customer that you’ve listened to them, you understand the specifics of their situation and you’re ready to take appropriate responsibility.

2. Ask Questions

Your main goal for step two is to inquire about specific and relevant details of this case to discover the root of the problem. This step is vital to ensuring that you can proactively prevent this issue from repeating itself.

It is important to note that this step should not come across as an interrogation and never as if you’re doubting their story. Make sure you are asking questions that confirm to your client that you are getting to the source of the issue so they won’t face this hassle in the future.

3. Resolve the Issue

Although it can be helpful to have a general guide for how to remedy mistakes and product complaints, each case presented to you will have different circumstances to consider and therefore, different resolutions as well. When it comes to offering a solution, acting with a sense of urgency is crucial. If not, you’ll risk your client feeling like they were left on the backburner.

Once you’ve weighed possible solutions, discuss your options with your customer to reach an agreement rather than a single offer. The last thing you want is for them to still feel unsatisfied after your call or discussion.

In fact, it may be in your best interest to simply ask your client what he or she would like as a solution. Often times, a client will come to you knowing exactly how they would like the problem solved. It may be worth it to see if their desired solution is one you can provide.

4. Thank the Customer

I don’t think any business owner actually wants to receive a complaint, but it is beneficial to have these issues brought to your attention and for that, the customer should be thanked. Be sure to thank them for not only giving you genuine feedback but for improving the quality of your product or service moving forward. Ensure the customer knows that their concern will be used to offer them a better purchasing experience in the future. Most of all, thank them for giving you the opportunity to make it right.

5. Keep a Record & Share the Complaint  

A complaint doesn’t die when the customer walks out your door or hangs up the phone. Complaints should not all be treated as “one and done” situations. A good practice to implement is creating a formalized record of complaints that can easily be sorted to identify recurring concerns. Patterns in your records can be a good indicator of possible pain-points in your business.

Once the complaint is recorded, don’t brush it under the rug. Talk your team through the resolution to help guide them through similar situations in the future.

6. Be Proactive

Complaint management should begin before your product or service even reaches the hands of your consumer. If your products aren’t living up to expectations or if mistakes are being made along the way, it may be time to do an analysis of your quality control processes to identify where you’re falling short.  Being proactive can also help to make sure you don’t need to save this blog as a frequently-visited page in your browser.

Think of it this way: your customer has given you a second chance to not only deliver a better product or service for them and other clients in the future but to also speak to the strong customer service they received from your business. Now is your chance to make it right.

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