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Not-So-Happy Customers

It ain’t all happy days when serving customers. Every now and again, you will faced with the genuinely aggrieved, the picky, the stinge and the Big Bully [eek]. And you need to know how to handle them all.

These days, grumpy customers like to vent their fury – often online – and this can do untold damage to your reputation. That’s why it’s important that you handle the complaint professionally and to the credit of the business.

I like to think of it this way: customer complaints are simply opportunities in work clothes. The way you handle a complaint could win your customer’s loyalty – forever!

Here are some tips to help you when in a tight spot with an unsatisfied customer:

Evaluate the situation

Firstly decide if the customer’s issue can be resolved by usual tactics or whether it will be better for public peace to take the discussion elsewhere.

Listen to the problem

Ask the customer to explain the problem they have (If they haven’t already made it clear!). Listen without interrupting until they have finished – It’s possible there is simply a misunderstanding.

Step into their shoes

Put yourself on the other side of the counter and ask yourself, How would I as a customer feel? What would I like to hear? Tell the customer you understand their request/complaint and genuinely empathise with the inconvenience it has caused them. (Even if you don’t quite see their point, or think they are being unfair, still follow this step. It works wonders!)

Take the blame

Although it may not be your fault that a coffee was served too hot, a chair leg was wobbly or the air conditioner has failed you on a 40 C day, you should always accept responsibility immediately.

In the event of a fair complaint, do not attempt to explain the cause or pass the blame. We’re sorry, we stuffed up. You will be surprised at how well a simple apology and acceptance of the blame will change the attitude of the customer.

Solve

Depending on the situation an apology may be the best solution. However if the customer has a reasonable (or not so reasonable) demand and it is within your power – do it. Remember this is your chance to impress!

Put the cherry on top

Offer a token to underscore your commitment to their satisfaction. Whether it be a voucher, a refund or a hug, leave them feeling pleasantly surprised.

Learn and adapt…

Complaints are not only an opportunity to impress but they provide you with invaluable customer service lessons! Review the situation with your team and evaluate how the situation could have been handled better or avoided altogether. That way your team will be better equipped for future occasions.

And lastly… don’t be ashamed to admit you need to change.

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