The thought of “customer complaints” makes many business professionals bristle and cringe. Many view customer complaints as an unpleasant situation where a disgruntled client wastes precious time by voicing their woes and pointing out perceived flaws and errors. As owners and managers, we all know that being able to handle negative feedback in a positive way takes plenty of practice, but we also need to remember that complaints are not necessarily always a bad thing. Like the old adage, “Complaints are merely a request for service” these situations can be a valuable marketing fact-finding tool and something business owners need to keep an open mind to.
When it’s Them: It’s the law of averages; the longer you are in business and the more customers you deal with, the more likely that complaints will eventually surface. But instead of dreading complaints; welcome them. Evernote CEO Phil Libin notes that complaints contain valuable insight.
“Customer feedback is great for telling you what you did wrong. It’s terrible at telling you what you should do next.”
By adopting this new mindset, owners and managers can view complaints in a new light and use that to pinpoint ways their company can do business better. If a dozen people have an issue with Step 3 in your teaching guide, it’s a huge red flag that there may be a glitch in your system.
Once a complaint is brought to the attention of those in charge, these same people need to work quickly and professionally to resolve the situation. A study from HelpScout revealed that up to 95% of customers will give a second chance if their complaint is handled successfully and in a timely manner. The key here is “timely.” Making an upset customer wait on hold while you fumble for an answer (or a comeback) will only make the situation worse. By letting the client know you are not only listening, but also interested in resolving the situation, it increases the potential to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to turn them into a satisfied customer. Apologize, gather the facts, acknowledge the issue at hand and begin the work together to find what may be needed to rectify the situation.
When it’s You:
“Complainers are usually stuck in a destructive pattern of needing a captive audience to serve as a dumping ground for their negative emotions. – The Positive Solution
If you are the one doing the complaining, work to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Offer up ideas and possible scenarios to make the current situation better. Also work to banish the phrase, “You never” from your vocabulary. Statements like, “You never value my opinions” are ineffective for two reasons; rarely does anyone “never” do or not do anything, and the phrase, “You never” is confrontational and fuel for the frustration fires that may already be burning. Instead, replace that phrase with more “we” statement as in, “We may have a problem with Project A. Let’s put our heads together and figure it out.”
Instead of complaining, work to choose thoughts that will lead your team, business relationships and clients toward a solution, instead of keeping everyone in the problem.
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