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.
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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. Clearly define the problem
It’s always better to understand and define the issue in a proper way. It will help the technician resolve the problem. This is a challenge to formalize the complaint. It will be easy to deal with the issue if it’s based on the actual facts. With complaints based on the factual, the customer coldly analyzes the reasons for their dissatisfaction in a way that can be easily verified.
On the other hand, if the grievances are common — “it has been noticed for that last couple of months that your service quality has downgraded” — and include no substantiation, you will have to ask your customers to be more specific. Talking to the customer over the phone or setting up a meeting that’s outside their pre-established appointment schedule will help you quickly and easily get the root cause of the problem.
Deal with all complaints
Those complaints, that don’t seem to be justified at all, should be taken into account because they show your customers’ feelings. The customer will try to exaggerate the extent of the issue in the hope that their complaint will be processed quickly or they will receive a prompt solution. The customers are often looking for recognition without delving into the world of psychology.
By all means, the tone of your response must always be carefully monitored, even if your customers are in anger and raise their tone. Even though your customer’s behavior is invective, you need to be polite and humble and try to give proper solutions faster. Listening to your customer attentively with empathy and composure will help you to objectively evaluate the real level of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. To ensure avoid any misunderstandings, take notes and rephrase the issue back to the customer to clarify what issue they are facing and what they’re saying.
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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.