Efficiently dealing with customer complaints improves your company’s repo, service quality, and customer loyalty. And, like other characteristics of customer service, there are a number of best practices that should be followed.
A single dissatisfied and unhappy customer can easily use social media platforms to share their annoyance, leading to similar feelings in many others as their discontentment quickly goes viral.
Even complaints that come from customers who are known to be irate and grouchy must be taken seriously and on a priority basis. Even though these types of customers are sometimes overreacting, they may be sharing opinions that are held by other customers as well as you realize. And they may be reporting a serious problem that you need to quickly resolve.
Always keep in mind, the complaints from your customer that you’re hearing are only the tip of the iceberg. In business, it is generally known and accepted truth that nearly nine out of ten unhappy customers don’t share their concerns at least not before it’s time to renew their contract. At this critical moment, they may ask to renegotiate the contract terms, or they may choose to work with the competition instead.
There are three major challenges when dealing with customer complaints:
- Maintaining your brand reputation. Today, with social media platforms, dissatisfied customers have a lot of power to negatively affect your company stature.
- Using the successful complaint management process to improve quality of service and boost customer loyalty.
- Understanding that retaining existing customers is much less expensive than acquiring new clients.
Here are four tips to deal with these challenges.
1. Establish a dedicated complaint management desk
The first step for a field service provider is to build a dedicated service or helpdesk, email address, and dedicated phone number to register customer complaints. Customer complaints should be managed similarly to the way incident tickets are handled and escalated internally through your organization based on the severity level.
You can also group customer complaints by service type, industry, whether it’s a public service, the value of the contract, and contractual commitments. Important customers can be given a priority pass for direct support by management.
It’s very important to immediately acknowledge the customer complaint via email or call with a standard format: we have received your complaint and a service engineer has been assigned to look into it and will update as soon as possible”.
It is better to exclude the customer’s account manager or the field technician in the communications loop with customers. They are in the awkward position of being both judges of what’s the issue and involved parties, and if they intervene in the situation, it will put those two roles at odds. And on the other hand, they can definitely add valuable information about the complaint internally by illuminating what happened.
2. Precisely Define the Issue
Prior to attempting to address any issue, it is essential to gather an uncomplicated and comprehensive knowledge of the scenario. Such a measure is important as it arms the technician with the essential insights to efficiently resolve the issue. The obstacles lie in formalizing the customer’s issues, translating it into a significant and well-defined problem. While the objections are entrenched in factual specifics, clients are more apt to examine the reasons for their dissatisfaction in a process that can be readily demonstrated.
Conversely, if the complaints are indefinite, such as, “Over the past couple of months, we’ve realized a diminish in your service quality,” and deficiency substantiation, it becomes essential to look for a greater specificity. Occupying the clients through phone communications or organizing meetings outside their scheduled appointment timings can accelerate the process of discovering the main cause of the issue.
Address All Customer Complaints
The very moment you are faced with issues that appear groundless, it is important to address them, as they reflect your clients’ emotions and perceptions. Customers might magnify the stretch of their complaint in the hope of a swift acknowledgement. Generally, they look for prompt resolution without getting into psychological complexities.
Sustaining with a composed tone in your acknowledgement is necessary, even while interacting with annoyed clients who may raise their tone. Politeness and humility must be sustained, and rapid solutions should be granted. Dedicatedly listening to your clients with empathy and composure demonstrates an objective examination of their true level of displeasure and unhappiness. To resist misunderstandings, it is suggested to take notes and paraphrase the problems back to the clients, searching for clarification in relation to their interest and grievances.
3. Reply with relevant and significant information
Simply registering the complaint is not enough. It’s important you act on it faster and keep the customer informed of progress, similar to the way the service process is managed. You need to fix a turn around time for your response, using a computerized complaint management solution. It will ensure all actions you take are fully traceable.
Finally, it’s time to provide a solution to your customer. At this point in time, you need to find out the criticality of the problem. For example, is the problem uncommon and limited to only this customer, or does it reflect a general shift in the quality of service?
In the first scenario, the complaint may result in time, financial, or business compensation. And in the second scenario, you may need to implement an internal corrective action plan that results in a change or reorg in procedures. Adopting a high-quality strategy strengthens you to take advantage of continuous improvement processes for maintenance services.
4. Combine digital worlds with human
In many areas Artificial intelligence (AI) has a lot to offer and dealing with customer complaints is among them. Today, there is a technology that can analyze contents of the email and transcripts of phone conversations, you can track the number of times a single word, or a group of words, are used to map the types of complaints you are receiving from your customer.
With the help of AI technology, it can automatically sort conversations based on the content and tone of the messages. It can also set the priority of the complaints by assigning a risk level ranking to them. With this insight, it allows you to anticipate a breach of contract scenarios to reduce your customer attrition rate.
However, a good complaint management system remains a human business where, as we have seen, words play an important role when it comes to responding to feelings of anger, injustice, or doubt. Another apology is included when you send a response to customers.
It’s also a good gesture to thank customers for making the complaint and helping you improve service quality. This demonstrates a positive spirit. Always remember, all complaints, even those that are baseless and don’t require any corrective actions, must be addressed.
The takeaway is everyone involved in providing customer service must be advised of how the issue was handled, especially technicians visiting on-site and are in direct contact with customers and end up acting as your company’s brand ambassadors in the field.