7 Simple Steps to Help You Resolve Complaints and Delight Your Customers

I’ve recently been working with a small business close to where I live. It’s an accountancy practice. It’s a great little business. Super people, working very hard and really trying hard for their customers. However, every once in a while they get a customer complaint. And, when they do, I see some interesting things start to happen.

Firstly, they are hurt. Because they are working very hard and really trying hard for their customers they feel hurt. Criticism is always difficult to accept no matter how positive you try to be. And the harder that you are working to please the customer, the deeper the criticism cuts.

Secondly, they try to prove that the customer is wrong. Probably every business in the world goes through this same sort of problem. And it would be easy to say that the customer is wrong, that the customer didn’t understand, or that the customer didn’t do what we told him or her.

So this is how I’ve helped the people in this business to approach these situations:-

1. Wear the customer’s shoes. Very few customers are going to complain unless they’ve got a real problem. So when a customer does take the time and trouble to let you know that you’ve got a problem don’t reject them.

Get behind the problem. Look at the problem from their point of view. How did this arise? What were they expecting? How did the reality match up to their expectations? Whatever they perceive, is their reality.

2. The best feedback we can get comes in the form of complaints. It would be nice if every single customer told us what a great job we were doing but it wouldn’t help us to improve our service. Complaints tell us how we could do it better.

3. If one person says it, then there may be ten others who are also suffering but don’t like to complain. So when resolving one customer’s problem, look to see if there are other customers who might also be affected. If you can solve things for them before they complain you earn huge loyalty.

4. Managing perceptions is all about letting the customers know what to expect.

Most situations can usually be presented in a very positive way that saves the customer from any future disappointment.

Accountants have a reputation for being very formal and maybe a bit stuffy. This firm realised that people might feel apprehensive about coming to see an accountant for the first time. So they advertised the fact that this was a friendly place to visit. They even went so far as to tell customers that they’d banned pin-stripe suits!

5. Sometimes the people in this accountancy business will say things like, “But I told the customer that they needed to put some money aside for their tax”, or “We did write and explain that this was going to happen”.

What this tells me is that despite some good efforts, they’re still not communicating properly with their customers. Many people feel that communication is all about sending out messages – writing a letter, sending an email, leaving a message on the ansaphone. But this is not communication!

Communication only happens when the same message that is sent, is received and correctly understood. If customers do not understand the communication then the communication needs to be improved. And there are lots of ways of doing this.

Make sure that the communication is received and understood. Emphasise what’s important and what is just for information. Use simple language. Don’t try to communicate too much at one time. Ask your customer questions to make certain that they understand. Use reminders for important dates. Use combinations of telephone, letter and email.

If the customer doesn’t understand your communication, it can only be your fault.

6. Listen and act appropriately. Often a customer simply wants to make their problem known. They’re not looking for compensation. They just want to make you aware.

Always listen. Let the customer know that you’re listening. Ask questions and make some notes. Take it seriously – this is not a good time to smile or laugh! Try to find out what the customer would like done. Often a simple apology is enough. Sometimes, more action is needed.

Having a complaints system is a great way of demonstrating to customers that their complaints are important. A special form is really helpful to everyone.

Thank them for taking the trouble to let you know. Let them know what you intend to do. And follow through on your promise. Try to report back to the customer even if it’s not absolutely necessary. A customer will really appreciate the fact that you have done something.

7. Dazzle and delight your customer. Use this as an opportunity to really make a really lasting impression. Most customers are much more loyal if they’ve had a complaint resolved to their satisfaction than they ever were before the problem arose.

Derek Williams is creator of The WOW! Awards™ an International Professional Speaker and Chief Executive for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Europe.

For more information about Derek Williams visit http://www.MrWow.co.uk

For The WOW! Awards (including access to a FREE customer service newsletter) visit http://www.TheWowAwards.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/