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6 Steps to Deal with Customer Complaints

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Last editedJuly 20223 min read

Every business dealing with customers will receive the occasional complaint. Putting a defined procedure in place ensures that your staff knows how to resolve customer complaints in a calm, productive, and professional way. Listening to customer feedback can even help you provide a better service overall and help grow your business. Keep reading for our steps to resolve customer complaints. 

Why should you learn how to deal with customer complaints?

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. When happy with your service, they’re more likely to spread the word and come back for repeat purchases. On the flip side, unhappy customers can share their negative impressions of your service on social media. Without an appropriate response in place, this negative feedback can be off-putting to potential future customers. Persistent negative feedback and customer complaints will cause your bottom line to suffer with lower sales and reduced profits. For all these reasons, it’s vital to address and rectify any complaints as quickly as possible. Here’s how to deal with customer complaints, in six steps.

1. Create a clear client complaint policy.

When you think you’ve provided stellar service to a client, a complaint may feel like it’s come out of left field. It’s important to plan your policy in advance so that you’re prepared to respond in a professional, timely way. When writing your policy, think about the reasoning behind customer complaints as well as all legal trading obligations for your state or territory. You can consult the Australian Consumer Law website to find out what your obligations are as a business owner. The policy should state how customers can make their complaint and the follow-up steps that will be taken to resolve the issue.

2. Ask for and listen to your customer feedback.

This starts with an understanding of why complaints happen. Most of the time, customer complaints show that there’s a gap between expectation and reality. This might be due to marketing copy that oversells the product, logistical issues with third-party suppliers, or a poorly designed user experience. When you invite feedback from customers, listen carefully to what they’re saying to find out what’s gone wrong in the marketing-to-purchase process. Be sure to ask follow-up questions to get to the heart of the issue and offer apologies if needed.

3. Keep clear records and ask for documentation.

Prevent future misunderstandings and protect your business by carefully documenting all communication between your staff and customers. Note down any agreements or promises, whether it’s a discount on their next order or a full refund. It’s also helpful to ask the customer for documents like original sales receipts, particularly when returning products.

4. Provide swift, personalised engagement with customers.

Businesses can now communicate with customers via multiple channels, which means there’s no excuse for a lack of engagement. Many clients submit complaints using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which are visible to the public. Responding quickly and politely to these complaints online makes your business look more professional to past, present, and future customers. Address your customers by name to give a personal touch and keep calm even when the customer is itching for an argument. Customer retention is worth the cost, so it doesn’t hurt to provide free upgrades, replacements, or future discounts.

5. Provide a clear solution to the customer complaint.

For complaints about physical products, a replacement or refund will usually be sufficient. Solutions for service-based complaints can be slightly trickier. When a customer is angry about the actions of one of your customer service representatives, you need to provide them with a plan of action to let them know they’ve been listened to. Keep a sympathetic, calm tone throughout all communications. Ideally, you’ll resolve the complaint during the first point of contact. Verify that the proposed solution works for all parties and ask if there’s anything else you can do to help.

6. Follow up with customers.    

Finally, you can improve your satisfaction ratings by reaching out to your customer a few days later to be sure they’re happy with the solution. Ongoing communication is extremely important for more complex customer complaints that require investigation. Update the customer on the investigation’s progress every few days with clear guidelines for response times. In most cases, the difference between an unresolved complaint and a satisfied customer boils down to excellent communication.

Automated customer relationship management (CRM) software can help ensure that all complaints are resolved in a timely manner. Look for CRM software with a ticketing system to document any requests and manage active cases more efficiently. GoCardless also helps improve customer satisfaction with a streamlined payments process that takes payment directly from the customer’s bank account, eliminating difficult conversations about payment delays. It also integrates with over 200 partners for a seamless user experience and workflow.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you withone-off orrecurring payments.

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