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Are You Handling Customer Complaints the Right Way?

So you’ve launched a company revolving around a product that can truly help people.  You have everything you think you need:  you have a rocking website, several social networking accounts, great retailers, and the best communication system you can afford.  Your products start selling like crazy, and you probably think that everything’s going perfectly.

And then people start complaining about you.  They focus on your product on review sites, and criticize what you’re selling for the most minor of details.  People post on your social accounts and call your hotlines to whine about your glitches.  Then you start to get angry. Stop.  Take a deep breath.  Calm down.

Okay.  Are you done being angry?  Good.  Being angry doesn’t help you, especially when facing people who are constantly finding faults in your product.  Two outraged people working at cross-purposes don’t resolve anything.  Whether you like it or not, YOU have to be the better person here; after all, you DO represent your business.  So how do you do this?

Communicate with the customer (no, REALLY)

So you’ve set up a rocking timeline page on Facebook (because everyone says EVERYONE is on Facebook) and you’ve invested in a business VoIP phone system like RingCentral (because the review sites say it has ALL the features you will ever need).  You’ve pretty much made your online accounts attractive and had your PBX set up to make communication more effective for both you and your customers.  That should be enough, right?

It depends.  Are you actually having conversations with the people who buy your product?  If you aren’t, then you’re doomed.  It doesn’t matter how good your merchandise is.  YOU’RE DOOMED.  You need to use those channels to figure out why the product is not working out for complaining customers, if you don’t want them to sabotage you.  Thankfully, the path to understanding the situation is fairly simple:

  • Pay attention – if you listen to or read the complaints carefully, you’re bound to see why people are so unhappy with your offers.  It can be a matter of misunderstanding what your product can actually do, or an actual glitch in the unit that they ended up with.  Either way, you need to pay attention in order to figure out what to do next.
  • Have an established protocol, and explain it – One of the biggest mistakes that optimistic startups make is failing to plan for the worst in terms of customer reaction.  Equally disastrous is not telling your customers how their specific complaints are going to be handled.  Having a protocol for handling complaints keeps you calm; sharing the protocol with the customer-critic can keep him calm too.
  • Follow up – While some businesses do fairly well with the first two items, this third item often falls by the wayside.  That’s not good, because this is just as important if you want to have a good relationship with your customers.  After you’ve resolved the issue, check in on the customers from time to time to see if their product experience has been improved.  That shows you care, and buyers dig that.

Essentially, drop the ego

Remember, the complaints aren’t about YOU or your product.  It’s about your customer and their experience with your brand.  If you let your ego get in the way and put you on defensive mode, you’ll lose.  It’s as simple as that.

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  1. Lucia Bizon

    April 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    True. Having good communication with your customers is one way of having a good CSR towards your customers. So it is important for business owners to never ignore complaints. Great post^^

  2. Sylvia

    April 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Christine,
    I personally believe that good communications and rapport with customers will eventually result in repeat business. So, you’re right, drop the ego and handle your customers properly.

  3. Alex

    April 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    How to handle some written complaint on my Facebook page? I think the worst choice is to delete such kind of complaint but I don’t know how to answer in some proper manner…

  4. Theresa Torres

    April 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Christine,
    This made me think of the story of the FedEx delivery guy who threw the computer monitor over the gate. From what I recall, the issue was handled promptly and nicely by someone in charge with the help of social media sites. I guess that’s one good example of how to handle customer issues.
    It’s difficult for most of us not to take things personally and to not let our ego get in the way but as you pointed out and which I agree, it’s about the customer and we should always focus on the best solution.
    Thanks for the tips!

  5. Peter Lee

    April 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Handling customer complaints is a challenging task. Handled it well and you’ll have a satisfied customer. Handled it badly might make the issue even worst oftentimes. Complaints are not always bad though, constructive type should be listened and used to improve. Nice post Christine!

  6. Liz

    April 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I entertain my customer complaints. It is the first step to knew of our mistakes and do a correction to avoid it happen again.

  7. Azam

    April 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    In business your customer is one of the main source of advertisement. If he is satisfied, your business can boost in days. Always keep good communication with customers.

  8. Amy

    April 19, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Great article, I haven’t known about the importance of handling customer complaints before, but since I’ve graduated and I’ve visited a class called quality management, I already know that it is really a big deal.

  9. Carol

    April 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Importance in handling customer is really essential the near fact that this people can help you in your business.

  10. Nishadha

    April 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Sharing the correct protocol with the customer is something that is very important but ignored by many companies. It is such a simple thing to do and wont take much time but the customer know exactly where he stands with his complains.

  11. Charissa

    April 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    We should know how to please the customer and how they’ll be treated. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Alan

    April 21, 2012 at 12:49 am

    It’s good to have a plan when dealing with customer complaints. Sometimes you just have to let it go if they refund your product. Listen to their complaints and move on.

  13. Robert

    April 21, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Customer complaints can be managed. It gives you an opportunity to understand their complaints and improve your product.

  14. Jamie Carrion

    April 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Very right, It is all about customer loyalty and customer retention now. An aggressive marketing campaign can get you some new customers but keeping them loyal to your product is the real issue. It is only good customer service and proper communication with the customers that can keep customers loyal to your business and will keep customer retention. Thanks for reminding us all about the importance of customer service in our business!!

  15. Danny

    April 22, 2012 at 5:36 am

    So basically you are saying that ignoring them is not the right approach?
    I always thought that just acting like nobody is complaining will make the complaint go away…
    My technique is to be so awesome and flawless that nobody can have any reason to complain. 🙂

    (Don’t react saying my way is wrong or immature…. I will ignore you anyway!) 😛

  16. verma

    April 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Customer satisfaction is should be always every companies motto.We can grow faster by providing customer oriented products.Consultation and awareness is also important. Thanks for nice write up here.

  17. Alex

    May 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Complaints from customers can truly be depressing because it means there’s something wrong with your product, customer service or something else. But, complaints can also be an opportunity to better your product or what it being complained about so long as you know how to listen to what’s being said or complained about.

  18. Rita Dawson

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Customers are the main object of marketing. We need to know how to handle a customer to run a business. And that to complaints if couldn’t be rectified, at least be negotiated that the customers are satisfied.

  19. Felicia Corrine

    May 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

    A customer is the king in any business and they play an inevitable role in its success. Every retailer should work to attract his customers. Thanks for your nice blog.

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