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How to Resolve Customer Complaints

When a client complains about your business, your first thought is how to make things right. Companies that prioritize great customer experience see a considerable impact on performance, earning 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors who lack in this area. Going above and beyond to solve concerns and turn people into happy patrons can help your business thrive.

By listening and responding to feedback, you can resolve common issues for all and strengthen your relationships with customers. It's prudent to follow some generally accepted customer service practices to ensure you get the best possible outcome for you and the patron.

How Do You Resolve Customer Complaints?

Complaints can be some of the most illuminating feedback your company receives. Once you know what makes customers dissatisfied, you can resolve the underlying problem to make your clients happier.

It's essential to treat any complaint that comes across your desk as a sign of a potential systemic problem. After all, statistics tell us only one in 26 unhappy customers complain directly to the company. Those you haven't heard from are often the ones leaving your company without a word.

While they may not complain to you, they may tell others about it. After all, the average dissatisfied customer will communicate their experience to nine to 15 people, and 13 tell over 20 people. Complaints you receive can offer a treasure trove of detailed feedback. You can use this information to win back those silent customers who turn away for seemingly mysterious reasons.

By solving these underlying issues, you'll receive fewer complaints later on. You'll also improve your positive-to-negative review ratio, which is crucial since you need 40 positive reviews to outweigh one negative review. You can build trust and loyalty with your current customers by proving yourself capable of resolving the issues they bring to your attention, as well.

Many companies take a reactive approach to customer complaints. They respond to issues as they come up to help make each client a little happier. This strategy is certainly necessary for retaining and satisfying the clients you already have. Combining it with an adaptive approach can prevent future issues so your other customers benefit, too. Here are some steps to resolve and prevent your most pressing customer complaints.

1. Catch Complaints Early

Customer complaints are extremely valuable. They're even more beneficial if you can learn about them before they turn up as online reviews or calls to customer service. By encouraging people to explain their concerns directly to you, you can get ahead of issues before they become widespread.

One way to catch issues early is through the Business Consumer Alliance Customer Feedback Program, which can monitor and resolve any negative experiences. Our certified mediation experts will reach out to your recent clients individually and have a personal conversation about their experience.

2. Analyze Your Feedback

Analyzing your customer complaints can help your business make sweeping improvements to boost retention and loyalty. It's helpful to have a system to track and categorize all complaints you receive. When looking at each case, ask yourself if the issue has happened before to the same customer or others. Look for how often these issues occur and other patterns. This investigation helps you identify opportunities to improve your products and services.

3. Create Standard Procedures for Your Common Concerns

Many times, customers reach out about minor concerns or questions. Developing guidelines and a cheat sheet to answer these small issues can help your team save time when responding to minor customer service interactions.

For more significant concerns, it can also be helpful to have a standard procedure. For known, recurring issues, develop a strategy for talking to customers and offering them an effective solution. In unique circumstances, establish a policy for responding and developing solutions. Such an approach might include:

  • Documenting the problem for future analysis
  • Designating someone to resolve the concern
  • Establishing a timeline for responding to the initial contact and developing a solution
  • Identifying the root cause of the issue
  • Defining the actions the company must take through the resolution process

4. Loop in the Right Team Members

Often, the underlying problems customers bring to your attention affect your entire company. If someone says they received the wrong item or a damaged product after ordering something online, you may have to work with your warehouse or fulfillment team. If the complaint was about an employee's behavior, you might have to work alongside your site managers or directly with your employees. Look for the team members or departments best equipped to resolve the particular complaints your team receives.

How to Respond to an Unhappy Customer

Just as critical as understanding and resolving the root cause of your complaints is treating every customer's concerns individually. As many as 68 of customers leave a company because they sense an indifferent attitude from staff. On the other side of the equation, 95 of those who report an issue remain loyal after the company handles it well. Knowing how to handle customer complaints individually and treat every client with respect can significantly impact business.

Customers want to feel heard and taken care of. Those who contact you about a concern are giving you a chance to resolve it. Take full advantage of that opportunity by dealing with customer complaints respectfully, helpfully and graciously. Understand how to solve a customer service complaint with these steps:

1. Stay Calm, Kind and Respectful

Whether a complaint is online, over the phone or face-to-face, it's crucial to be in control of your emotions. By staying collected while a customer blows off steam, you remain in control of the conversation and are better equipped to help them. No matter how unhappy a customer is, they will respond better to someone who offers kindness and respect.

2. Listen or Read and Try to Understand

Resolving a complaint by its root cause requires a thorough understanding of the problem. Listening with open ears and an open mind will also make the customer feel more at ease. They know the person cares about their patronage and wants to resolve the problem. Try to understand the concern and acknowledge it by summarizing it and repeating it back to them. This action tells the customer you've heard them, understand where the concern lies, and are ready to resolve it.

3. Talk the Customer Down if Necessary

When talking to unhappy customers, emotions can run high. Those in customer service understand this and have mastered the art of customer complaint response and talking callers out of their anger or bad moods. Remind the customer that to help them best, you need to hear the issue explained calmly. Let them express their emotions, then validate their feelings. When you thank them for expressing their concerns, the client often calms down on their own accord, feeling listened to and respected.

4. Take Action

After acknowledging the issue, you must find a way to make things right. In many cases, the resolution can be a quick fix. Often, asking the customer what they want you to do makes it easy to decide what actions to take. Resolving the problem during your initial interaction has the highest chance for success. If you have employees handling complaints, give them the authority to issue refunds and handle requests without sending them to a manager to help you resolve issues faster.

5. Thank Them

Remember how valuable feedback is to your business and express genuine gratitude to your customers when they provide that feedback. It's one more way to show your clients you take their feedback seriously and will use it to influence real, positive change at your company.

Contact Business Consumer Alliance for Complaint Resolution Today

The Business Consumer Alliance has many resources for businesses like yours, including customer mediation and resolution services. We solicit and aggregate business reviews and complaints through our customer feedback program to help you build a positive online reputation. When we receive negative feedback through this service, we work to resolve the issue personally so you can retain and delight more customers. We also offer arbitration for any complaints that require it so you can handle these issues quickly and privately.

Learn about all the resources and benefits we offer our members and reach out to us online to join.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.