Unfortunately, customer complaints are much more common than glowing reviews, referrals or testimonials. Complaint resolution can be costly to organizations in terms of the time it takes to respond to- and resolve- the complaint, as well as replacement costs where applicable. Once the purchase of a product or service is complete, there typically aren’t many other customer contacts for most companies.
Resolving complaints in a compassionate, prompt, friendly and courteous manner is a great way to not only retain a customer, but to obtain referrals. Many employees loathe dealing with customer complaints, however they should view it as an opportunity to connect with the customer and convert him/her into a lifetime customer.
Complaints are often both rational and emotional. Developing and implementing a process that addresses both aspects will lower anxiety for both parties involved and foster strong relationships. It is critical that employees responsible for complaint resolution maintain a positive attitude no matter how difficult the people or issues may be. Equally important is an employee’s stress management skills or his/her ability to differentiate between positive and negative stress so as to maintain a balanced attitude.
Interpersonal skills are also critical to creating a positive customer complaint experience. The employee responsible for resolving the complaint should be a strong communicator who actively listens and responds in a caring way.
Although all of the Dale Carnegie Human Relations principles can be applied when resolving complaints, the following principles would prove particularly helpful:
10. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. There is no use in arguing with a customer, so seek to understand and be compassionate.
15. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking. This is important especially when dealing with the emotional aspect of a complaint. Customers are often annoyed and impatient when presenting and discussing a complaint. Often times simply allowing them to vent alleviates a lot of their stress and frustration, and builds trust.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. People LOVE to talk about themselves and in this case, their experience. By actively listening and seeking to understand vs. immediately solve the issue, the customer feels acknowledged, respected and will more than likely be willing to cooperate with the resolution process.
If customer care or complaints are a common challenge for your organization, consider hosting a workshop that focuses on the aforementioned areas which are taught in the Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications & Human Relations/Skills for Success.
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