People who complain in a polite, assertive manner seem to get apologies, refunds and other satisfactory outcomes far more often than those who resort to rudeness or throwing a fit. This article unpicks the reasons why this is, and provides tips for how to be an effective customer when complaining in person or on the phone.
Often, customer complaints reflect a disconnect between what the customer expected from a product or service and what was delivered. This could be a result of something the business does itself (e.g. a mistake in the marketing copy), or it might be caused by factors outside of the company’s control (e.g. problems with third-party shipping providers). Whatever the reason, a well-handled complaint is an opportunity for a business to show that they care.
Customers who feel supported and valued by a business are more likely to become loyal customers. In addition, customers who feel that a business is going the extra mile to address their concerns tend to share their good experience with colleagues and friends. This in turn helps to build a strong reputation and increase sales.
When handling a customer complaint, it is essential to stay calm and to listen carefully to the customer’s concerns. This will help to diffuse anger and frustration and will also ensure that the complaint is fully understood. The first step should always be to inform the customer of what has happened and to see if they have any suggestions for a resolution. Then, work together to find an acceptable solution for everyone involved.
If you are unable to resolve a complaint with the seller, it is worth asking for a manager. This will usually be a more senior member of staff who will have the authority to offer a full apology and to put things right. If you are unsure about whether you have the right to ask for a higher level of management, it is worth contacting the Better Business Bureau. This is a government-regulated body which investigates complaints about businesses and which can give you advice.
The most important thing is to be polite and clear about what you want to achieve from your complaint. If you are not sure how to approach this, it may be helpful to look at our articles on Tact and Diplomacy and Politeness before proceeding. Keeping these basic principles in mind will make it much easier to be an effective customer when complaining. It is also worthwhile considering how your company deals with complaints from people who have never bought from you, as they are just as valuable a source of information for your business. It is also worth putting measures in place to recognise such customers in some way the next time they use your products or services. This is especially the case if they have previously complained about you in the past. This can help to deter them from doing so again in the future.