Customers can seem a lot more demanding than usual with the COVID crisis triggering delivery delays and making returns harder. If you have noticed an uptick in complaints lately, it is certainly to be expected. If a customer is taking the time to complain, he or she certainly cares enough about your brand. In fact, only 1 in 25 customers will complain directly to you. The customer’s perspective about what is and what isn’t working can be priceless in terms of improving your product or service! So, customer complaints should be welcomed.
In the new normal, complaints are inevitable with supply chain disruptions. While it is true that these factors are not necessarily within your control, handling a customer complaint in a professional manner can help you build a long term relationship with them. Eventually, it can translate into higher average order size and customer loyalty.
So, how do you handle customer complaints? After all, each situation is likely to be unique and may require a different approach. While situations can vary, a complaint is an opportunity for an online business to truly deliver on its brand promise. It can lead to a-ha moments which can change a customer’s perception about your brand even as you get a better understanding of what matters most to your customers. Customer support agents must be equipped with the right skills to respond and not react to customer complaints.
Here are a few proven ways to handle customer complaints like a pro:
1. Empathize with the customer’s concerns:
The cardinal rule for any business that wants to keep its customers from going to the competition: feelings come first, facts later. The first few seconds of a complaint call or chat are likely to be charged with emotion, especially if the issue is a long-standing one. It is important to hear the customer out and empathize with ‘how they feel’ about a problem they’re facing before getting to the ‘what’ of it. While the speed with which you respond to customer concerns matters, the quality of the conversation is more important.
To enable agents to respond with empathy, update your knowledge base with useful conversational tips for handling customer complaints related to known issues such as shipping delays or incorrect billing.
2. Take full ownership:
When the customer has had his say, it is time to summarize and confirm that you have fully understood the customer’s point of view. This is critical because without having all the facts before, you cannot determine how to tackle the issue. Oftentimes, you may disagree with the customer’s interpretation of the situation, however, it is important to avoid judging the customer and clarify what matters most to them.
Agents must be trained to take personal ownership of the situation and stay on the phone with the customer even when he or she needs to be transferred to a different unit. The customer thus does not need to repeat himself, creating a positive experience.
After you have acknowledged and owned up to the problem, a customer is likely to be in a receptive state. The first thing to do here is to apologize for the experience with a simple, “I’m sorry”. Research suggests that an apology is all it takes to pacify 45% of irate customers.
For example, if an item returned by the customer arrived after the expected delivery window, tell the customer that it is not the experience you want them to have. In this case, your brand is clearly not to blame. However, it is important to avoid pointing it out to the customer as the objective is not to indulge in playing the blame game.
Research suggests that an apology is the fastest way to defuse a potentially explosive escalation.
4. Offer a resolution with reasons:
The COVID crisis has affected businesses and individuals everywhere. While you cannot be blamed for a returned item getting lost in transit, the customer isn’t exactly to blame either. Finding a middle ground is critical to finding a workable solution. In this case, you might consider expediting a replacement at no cost. In cases where this is not possible, offering credit or discount on the next purchase can be an effective alternative. Let the customer know that a ticket is being raised on his behalf along with the expected timeframe for resolution. Keep your word and follow-up with the customer to advise him or her about the progress.
It is important for agents to adhere to a pre-approved script in order to avoid misinterpretations and potential customer escalations. Send the customer an email confirming that a ticket has been raised so that they can reference it in the future if required.
5. Ask for feedback:
While a customer will have made his views quite clear by this point, asking for feedback can convey that your brand really cares. This may also help you avoid a negative CSat survey. Most customers will accept that mistakes do happen, however, what matters most to them is how well a company responds to it. Asking for feedback also conveys humility and a willingness to learn on the part of the brand.
Remember, there is almost always a correlation between your NPS score and the number of complaints logged by customers. Timely feedback can help you avoid adding more detractors to the tally and hopefully retain customers over the long term.
Customer complaints are undoubtedly an opportunity for brands to change and grow. In fact, there would not be much use for customer support if customers didn’t complain! However, businesses are often constrained to offer round the cloud customer support to customers in different parts of the globe. This can impact customer experience and contribute to attrition. Scaling customer support in a short span of time, while maintaining quality, can be a challenge in itself.
This is where an outsourced customer support provider like Helplama can help small businesses keep costs down and provide a consistent customer experience. Helplama’s team of customer support experts is handpicked based on your unique business requirements. Our Zero-Risk Guarantee gives you complete freedom from cost overruns or contractual obligations.
Contact us today for more information!