January 16, 2017

Customer complaints & how to handle them

Typical customer complaints will involve the customer calling the company and telling you about a product or service which is not performing as per expected standard. Such a customer complaint may be genuine or there may be some oversight from company end due to which the customer is suffering.

The reactions of customers can vary if their product is not performing up to mark. Some customers might show more patience than others. In any case there needs to be a set protocol to handle irate customer. Thus we are outlining a 7 step method for handling customer complaints.

Angry customers and how to handle them

1 Have thorough knowledge of your own products / services – Before handling customer complaints, you need to know your own systems inside out. A customer who is calling for a complaint will be even more enraged if you do not know your own products or services.

2 Listen to the customer – Not listening to the customer can create grave problems. Imagine if the customer has a genuine problem but instead of listening to the problem completely, we start giving the wrong solutions. This can only elevate the situation further.

3 Confirm customer complaint – A company generally has a service setup in place to take care of customer complaints. Thus if you have received a complaint, first you need to confirm with the service department whether they are already taking care of the complaint. If they are, then the customer needs to get in touch with the service department. If they aren’t, then you need to promote co ordination between the customer and the service department. Proper co ordination between departments is the strongest way of handling customer complaints.

4A find a resolution if problem is genuine – If the customer complaint is genuine, than you need to find the resolution at the earliest. The resolution might include a refund, a replacement, repairing or rectifying the error. In either case, there needs to be a clear policy of how customer complaints have to be resolved. In absence of such policies, your employees will not be empowered to take decisions.

4B Handle customer properly if problem is not genuine / not as per company policy – In some cases, the customer might be unlucky and his product would not be under warranty or his complaint might not match company policies. In such cases, customer complaints needs to be handled politely but firmly and the company policy needs to be communicated to customers such that there is no bad blood later towards the brand / product.

5 Convey your commitments to the customer – Once you know the resolution of the complaint, the same needs to be communicated to the customer and a strong commitment needs to be given. The commitment needs to be fulfilled to avoid customer dissatisfaction.

6 follow up with customer after complaint resolution – A way to ensure customer satisfaction is when he receives a call from your service department to confirm whether the complaint has been resolved as per the expectation of the customer.

7 Feedback after 1 week – The customer might still be agitated after a week or so. But a simple confirmation call after a week or so can go a long way in creating customer delight. Asking the customer whether or not he is happy with the services will build confidence of the customer in the brand and will help in future for word of mouth promotion.

Handling customer complaints properly is an important aspects of building brands. Over a period of time, if word of mouth spreads that your company is good in selling products but not so good in providing the right service, then be rest assured that you will find it very difficult to get new customers via word of mouth. On the other hand, if the general public are happy with your after sales service because of your handling of customer complaints, your brand can reach a top level positioning in peoples mind while making a purchase.

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About Hitesh Bhasin

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  1. Arpit Desai says:

    Customer complaints should not be ignored at any cost. During my career, I have seen both sides of customer complaints being handled. Right from a not so popular brand becoming market leader to a well performing brand losing market share and eventually shutting down operations due to poor customer complaint handling. It requires patience and proper handling and a brand can successfully get out of a problematic situation.

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