With good comes bad. And in retail landscape, bad is referred to as Customer Complaints, feedback etc. These complaints help us identify issues and potential problems in our business, thereby giving the opportunity to improve and grow. Effectively handling customer complaints becomes easier with time and practice.
Often, these complaints are due to issues one cannot avoid, such as company policy & process or at other times these complaints are a response to a staff’s action/behavior. It’s difficult, but not impossible to transform a complaining customer into a loyal, long-term customer if the problem can be resolved quickly and efficiently. Following are some of the best practices (usually in this order mentioned) in case of an irate customer:
- Handle it Professionally, not personally: If a customer is angry, its because the services or product he purchased did not meet his expectations. These complaints are addressed to you and not at you, so act responsibly.
- Listen carefully: Allow the customer to vent out his problem. Stay calm and be patient while he/she air their grievances about your product or service. This will allow the customer to get into calm frame before he/she listens to your solution. However, it is important to make the customer narrate the problem to the right stakeholder, someone who understands it completely and would have the authority to provide a solution or take it to concerned officials for resolution. A lot of times, the customer is asked to talk about the problem to different stakeholders, which results in higher agitation.
- Empathize: Try and empathize with customer’s emotions and feelings at every opportunity. Apologize if there is a mistake from your end. This builds a trust with the customer.
- Ask relevant questions: It is extremely important to close loop the situation by asking all relevant questions around the problem once the customers have explained their grievances. It is logical to have the targeted official/staff ask questions pertaining to specific problems, for eg. Color fading grievance to be handled by the staff who has knowledge about it while general grievance can be handled by any staff.
- Provide realistic timelines & updates: Once the problem is identified, communicate the customer the steps involved in resolution along with realistic timelines. Such statements give customer a sense of confidence that the issue will be resolved. If the organization has a Customer Relationship Management tool, initiate a problem/request on the tool and provide access to the customer to track the resolution.
Customers are the lifeblood of retail business, and every happy customer ensures customer retention, loyalty as well as positive brand promotion.