Angry and disgruntled customers can make life difficult for businesses, especially when they air their grievances on social media, blogs and other public forums. Customers, potential customers and even respected news outlets can read these complaints, causing a great deal of damage to your reputation. When unhappy customers make public complaints about your products and services, taking steps to protect your reputation should be a top priority for your business.
Check the Facts
Before you can deal effectively with a customer’s complaint, you need to assess the merits of their claims, as well as their intentions. While many complaints come from customers with a genuine grievance, some accusations may come from online trolls motivated by a desire to cause trouble and conflict. Therefore, it’s important to determine whether the complaint comes from a genuine customer. Looking back at your sales records may help to match the name with the purchases. Other information, such as the geographical location of the person complaining, can also help to determine the validity of their claim.
Once you’ve verified that the complaint is genuine, it’s time to ask the customer for more information. Gather as much data as possible about the problem. Ideally, you should ask the customer to describe the problem in their own words, rather than providing a generic checklist for them to fill in, as this enables you to understand the issue from the customer’s perspective. It also gives angry customers a chance to vent and let their frustration out. Try to use open-ended questions when communicating with the customer, as this will help to determine what they want.
Investigate the Claims
Depending on the type of complaint, you will probably need to investigate the incident. This investigation may be as simple as checking your records or speaking to one of your employees. If the customer has complained about the quality or safety of a product, you may need to inspect the product or ask for photographs of broken items. In some cases, especially those involving product safety, you may need to seek legal advice before attempting to resolve the situation.
Responding quickly to complaints is crucial for preventing an escalation of the problem. Customers need to feel they are being heard, so it’s important to reply as soon as possible and keep them informed about any investigations related to their complaint. If you expect your investigation to take longer than two or three days, let the customer know that you are looking into their claim and will contact them soon.
Resolve the Problem
Finding a suitable resolution will depend on the severity of the problem, as well as the expectations of the customer. Some customers may be happy to receive a replacement product or full refund, while others may want compensation. If the customer intends to take legal action, you need to seek advice and legal representation as early as possible. Keep detailed records of all communication between your company and the complainant, as you may need to provide evidence at a later date.
Angry customers can cause problems for businesses, but managing the situation effectively can prevent more serious issues. Protect your reputation by checking the facts, gathering information, investigating the claims, responding quickly and finding a satisfactory resolution.