Handling Complaints: Is the Customer Always Right?
We’ve all heard that phrase “the customer is always right”. No matter the situation, more and more companies are placing emphasis on customer service and how to better handle customer complaints. Why? According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.
How your company handles customer complaints is a critical component of your overall service and how customers will rate your business to others. So, how do you empower your team to put the customer first?
Get Real—Your business and employees are not perfect. The sooner you recognize there is a breakdown in service, the sooner you can make changes to ensure customer satisfaction. United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, acknowledged that his company wasn’t exactly giving the best customer service, so what did he do? He empowered his team to handle customer complaints by giving employees the opportunity to compensate customers who receive poor service with vouchers for future flights—on the spot.
Listen to Understand—First and foremost, smile, listen and try to help. Many people listen with the intent to respond. Teach your team to listen to understand. Customers ask for help when they are unsure of what to do next. They are already feeling vulnerable and possibly agitated at that moment. Sometimes the customer just wants to know that someone heard what they had to say. Empathizing with them and offering to do your best will be music to their ears.
Try thanking them first—Interesting concept, right? Typically, in the customer service world, the workers are the one being thanked for how helpful they were. Instead, turn the tables. Let the customer explain what they need, and start off by thanking them for being a customer, or for bringing this issue to your attention as it will help to make better customer experiences in the future. Customers want to be appreciated, so thank them.
Be respectful with your words and your body language—Words are easy to control. You know what you are going to say before it escapes your mouth. However, body language is a whole other story. People pick up on negative body language very quickly, which makes their guard go up. Never talk to a customer with your arms crossed. Always make eye contact when speaking and stand several feet away from them to give them their personal space. Once you approach the situation with an open mind and open arms (literally), the conversation will go much smoother and you have the potential to have a very happy customer.
Grin and bear it—There are days where it may feel like the customer isn’t always right. It does, and can, happen. And that is okay. When approached with a difficult customer, keep a level head and avoid possessiveness like you or yours when speaking. When a customer is already disgruntled, it can appear difficult to think the situation can be turned around, but it can. Follow the steps of listening, empathizing, thanking them and communicating openly.
Businesses need to identify areas of improvement for their staff and to address those issues with training sessions. Viewing customer service as the backbone of your organization is a surefire way to keep your employees, customers, and company headed in the right direction. And remember, it is important to make certain all your employees are adequately trained and prepared to address issues that may arise. Help them prepare with our course: Handling Customer Complaints.