Managing Customer Complaints – Creating a Resolution Process
When you run a service contracting business, you can expect customer complaints. Customers will not be in a good mood when it’s over 100 degrees outside and their air conditioning unit is broken. The same is true if their toilets are flooded or a pipe has burst. While it’s best to work hard to avoid issues, managing customer complaints once they happen is part of the job.
In this business, you understand that timely and efficient service can make a massive difference in customer satisfaction and retaining loyal customers. Arriving at a service call with the wrong tools, or arriving late, will certainly be noticed – especially in an emergency situation.
Yet, mistakes happen, and customer complaints are inevitable. This is true regardless of how long you’ve been in business and how good your services and technicians are. You just can’t please everyone all the time.
According to Esteban Kolsky, 13% of dissatisfied customers will complain about their experience to 15 or more people. As a result, it is critical to address issues right away.
While there are some customers who will demand more than you can offer or don’t comprehend why things aren’t fixed yet, many complaints can be resolved quite quickly. Continue reading for several helpful tips for managing customer complaints and creating a resolution process.
Listen to your customer
When your customer is having a bad day – perhaps they didn’t want to spend money on unexpected repairs or they had to take off from work to wait on service – it may be that they just need someone to listen. Yet, listening also gives you a better idea of why the customer is angry. Give them the time and space to air out their grievances.
Then, determine if your technician followed your policies or not. You also want to listen for what they want from you to resolve their complaint. Do they want a refund? A discount? A new technician? A reschedule? When a customer is complaining, it’s easy to get defensive – especially when you are proud of your business and your work.
Before you say anything in your defense, listen for what they want and see if you can offer it.
Put yourself in their shoes
It’s important to see things from your customer’s point of view. Certainly, they aren’t trained in various repairs and technical know-how, but they are affected when the toilet is overflowing and people need to use the restroom.
Imagine if that was your household and you were dependent on the technician. Try to understand why they’re complaining. There are always several sides to an issue, but the customer will appreciate it when you show that you are trying to see things from their perspective.
Learn to apologize
Even if the customer is wrong, you can still apologize. At times, this is all a customer wants to hear. They’re frustrated for a reason. It can be as simple as apologizing for the situation, even if you don’t apologize for what they see as the issue. If they are right, you should definitely say you’re sorry. According to NewVoice Media, 50% of customers will use a company more often after a positive customer experience.
Send the complaint to the right person
Designate someone, or a department, for customer complaints and conflict resolution. If the complaint is centered around one of your front-line service technicians, then the customer probably wants to talk to someone else.
Also, a designated employee can see things more objectively when they are not directly involved with the issue. Furthermore, the customer will see that you have taken their complaints seriously, which helps to build trust.
Moreover, the designated employee or department must ask a lot of relevant questions. And, they must convey a caring and concerned demeanor.
You might have spent years sacrificing to build your business and reputation; don’t risk it all over a preventable argument. If the customer is in the wrong, you can diplomatically defend your policies. But, don’t ever resort to fighting. Based on research from Zendesk, 39% of customers will avoid a business for over two years after a negative experience.
The more you argue, the more firmly the customer will stand on their initial complaint. For conflict resolution to occur, you must listen, see things from their point of view, send it to the right person, and talk to the customer in a calm and open manner. Do not let any complaints take a wrong turn for the worse.
Address the complaint quickly
Effective dispute resolution means that all customer complaints should be addressed and resolved as soon as possible. Don’t let the issue fester and escalate. And, you should discuss the complaint with all relevant parties such as the service technician and the customer – separately, of course.
Train all employees on managing customer complaints
Even if you have staff dedicated to resolving customer issues, all employees must be aware of the policies and procedures. As a result, any employee will know what to do when they face a direct complaint.
Document the complaint
It is crucial to have a system in place to document customer complaints that is also easily accessible. When talking to any customer, you want to know whether they’ve had any previous issues. This ensures that you steer clear of repeating the same actions that enabled the complaint to occur in the first place. Plus, you’ll know when to be more sensitive around specific customers.
Offer a resolution
There is a positive psychological impact on your customers when you offer a resolution. It can be a full or partial refund, a future discount, or a new service technician. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that there will be some customers who are not satisfied regardless of what you offer.
You can’t please these types of customers, and it’s better to provide what you can offer and no more. In fact, one of the things you should never do is to try to be everything, to everyone.
Follow up afterwards
Once an issue has been resolved–whether you offered free service, a discount, or something else–follow up with the customer to see if things are okay on their end. Ask if they need additional assistance.
Keep offering excellent customer service
The next time to customer requests a repair, your documentation will show their history. If all employees have access to the customer’s records, then any employee can handle their requests, act accordingly, and continue to offer excellent customer service.
Creating a Process for Managing Customer Complaints
Dealing with customer complaints is never an easy process. Nonetheless, putting a system in place that all employees understand can make it more comfortable. By taking the right steps, you can ensure you maintain your hard-earned reputation and turn complaints around.