10 Golden Rules for Dealing with a Disappointed Customer
August 14, 2014
No matter the size of your business it’s likely you will have to deal with a disappointed customer at some point.
While the old adage “you can’t please all of the people all the time” springs to mind when dealing with an issue this should never be used as a reason to shy away from the issue at hand. What many fail to grasp is that for every issue raised there could be 100 people who have faced the same problem but decided to stay quiet and to simply take their business elsewhere.
While it’s easy to play the blame game the best course of action is to remain professional and have a proactive approach to problem solving. Dealing with an issue should be seen as a great opportunity to learn and in doing so; save a deteriorating relationship, protect existing customer relationships and maybe even generate some new referrals too.
As the Head of Service Delivery I have complied these 10 golden rules on how to handle an issue raised by customer:
Once an issue has been voiced it should be logged and acknowledged (via letter, email, phone call, etc.) as soon as possible. This should be done no matter how insignificant it may seem, after all it’s obviously meaningful enough to the customer for them to have raised it. You must treat it in a meaningful way too.
When dealing with an issue, be as open-minded and understanding as possible. While you may think it is spurious the person who brought the issue to your attention will not think so and would want to be treated with respect.
Make sure to write down everything important and be sure to ask questions that dig deeper and see if there may be something else behind the issue.
Regardless of your thoughts on the matter you should try to offer some form of apology, but, until you know the full facts, be careful to make sure you say nothing that makes it seem like you are accepting any liability.
By showing you sympathise there is a chance you may be able to help calm the situation and possibly even placate the complainant.
Keep Your Composure
If the complainant is aggressive or highly argumentative, it is easy to become irritable and respond in kind but this could lead you to saying something you might regret and possibly have repercussions for the business and your job. It is always best to stay calm, collected and reasonable no matter how aggressive the other person may become.
Positivity Is Key
Be sure to take an optimistic and proactive approach. Remember to focus on solutions rather than assigning blame as a complainant may not be interested in someone getting the blame and is just keen to see the issue being resolved.
Think of the Business’ Reputation
It is best to come to a mutually beneficial outcome as this could help mitigate any reputational fallout.
If the issue is not something that can be dealt with swiftly then it is key to keep everyone updated. A failure to communicate regularly will only lead to irritation and, even if nothing has been actioned, it is best to show that the problem has not been forgotten.
Own the Problem
Someone will need to take responsibility for solving the issue. As the Head of Service Delivery I personally take care of any issue but if there is no-one like myself in your organisation then it should be assigned to someone. Your organisation should have a clear and formal policy for how complaints are dealt with so everyone is aware of who is responsible for dealing with the issue.
Discover the Reasons
It’s not just about solving the issue in front of you. It’s extremely important to understand why the problem occurred and how it can be avoided in the future. It is always best to keep accurate notes and act on the lessons learnt to improve processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.