How you handle a customer complaint is a critical component in the longevity of any customer service relationship. Just take a look at Trip Advisor, Yelp and other platforms to find out that customers are not shy about their frustrations, disappointments and employees’ apathy to their needs.
Oftentimes, a negative customer experience can be salvaged and turned into an opportunity. Being able to respond and address customer complaints are the keys to keeping a valuable business relationship on the right track.
As a hotel manager and hospitality trainer, I guide and mentor employees on this very critical component. Working with different hotel brands such Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and couple of Luxury properties gave me a chance to build a relationship with customers, correct any service issues and most of the time strengthen customer relationships.
Customers who were upset and didn’t complain lead to either a customer termination or poor word of mouth marketing. Either way, you lost the customer. Your customer service will always be a reflection on how you handle customer complaints effectively. Occasionally things will go wrong and they will. The real question is how well you will respond, notice I am saying respond, and not react.
Jeffrey Gitomer, a business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales and customer loyalty teaches us how we should view customer complaints, “When a customer has a complaint, you have an opportunity to solidify your relationship.” It’s all about relationships and trust.
Customer satisfaction is not enough. Average service is no service! Businesses nowadays need to positively delight customers if they want to earn their loyalty and keep their customers complaint-free.
Here are some customer-resolution tips I’ve learned while working in the hotel business and mentoring employees to help them deal with a customer issue more effectively,
First and foremost listen all the way
Listen carefully to what the customer has to say, and let them finish. Don’t interrupt or feel like you need to get a word in. Don’t get defensive. The customer is not attacking you personally; he or she has a problem and is upset with the service provided. Repeat back what you are hearing to show that you have listened correctly.
Empathize and acknowledge their emotions
Most of the time, we live in our own little bubble and we forget that our customer is another human being that is facing challenges and issues throughout the day. We take it for granted that we know exactly how they feel. We need to really feel their pain and understand their emotions of disappointments. How does it look like from their perspective? Relate to them like it was your own personal problem.
Apologize without blaming
This happens a lot in many places. An employee will shrug off any responsibility and pass the buck. Don’t blame others and look for a scapegoat. Take ownership and sincerely apologize for the experience the customer encountered. By taking responsibility, you are becoming an advocate of the customer that their interests are heard and we failed to deliver on our promises.
Respond and take care of the issue ASAP
A customer wants their issues to be resolved and taken care of without any delays and push back. A sense of urgency communicates that we care and want to help our customers feel happy again. When something wrong happens the customer expect it to be fixed immediately to their satisfaction. You can say all the right things, but if the issues is not resolved, it continues to escalate and creates more frustration for your customers.
Follow up with the customer
Resolving a problem with a servant’s heart and making sure it’s done right, we are taking steps to restore the trust. Establishing a long term relationships requires us to reach out to the customer and do everything we can to strengthen the relationship with them. The customer will appreciate you taking every step and making effort to win their trust.
There is no getting around customer complaints, regardless of your industry. However, by employing these tips and taking the time to coach your team, you can turn challenges into something constructive.
What do you find most challenging with training and coaching your team to handle customer complaints? I would love to hear from you. Let’s connect and chat sometime: email@example.com