Friday, September 23, 2011

KeFactors Friday: The Customer Is Always Right?!

Top 3 Mistakes of Complaint Handling That Will Guarantee Your Customer’s Wrath

Yes, yes, yes, you’ve worked too hard and come too far in your career to deal with some whiny customer with nothing better to do than blister your ear with complaints about your products and/or services! You’re a busy [insert your job title], and that customer is probably some ill-tempered old coot filling a bleak and empty life by picking on busy people with real jobs.
Nonetheless, here are three mistakes you ought to avoid:

You apologize—in fact, you cut off the customer’s words in your haste to do so—and you never get around to thanking the customer for making the complaint.

What the customer hears: “If I say sorry ASAP, this customer will go away.”

Since the customer’s the injured party, you don’t get to set the terms of the discussion. Your job is to listen fully, suspend reactions, and thank the customer for even bothering to complain directly to you at all. Why? Because thanking them for the complaint means you take it seriously. You regard the customer as a partner in your organization’s hopes for improvement and customer satisfaction. Customers who are frequently cut off and interrupted become increasingly “glued to the problem.”

One of your first reactions to the complaint is along the lines of, “That’s funny, no one’s ever complained about that before.” (If you really want to drive this customer away, smile or chuckle when you say that).

What the customer hears: “Your complaint is unprecedented and therefore ridiculous.”

Again, a grateful attitude helps here, because so what if this customer’s the first? How many other customers have walked away mad, without saying anything to you about it?

Explaining/justifying your company’s internal protocols doesn’t work if the result still means a problem for the customer.

What the customer hears: “This is the way we operate and we’re not going to change it just because you’ve complained.”

If someone’s voicing dissatisfaction over a negative experience, characterizing the customer as a freakish crank means you’re willfully blinding yourself to process flaws that may need to change anyway—sooner rather than later. Again, how many other customers have reacted the same way but simply chosen not to share their grievance with you? because if a customer’s unhappy with you, they’ll talk—maybe not to you, but they’ll talk.

A big thank you to Lucy Ke for providing us with wonderful content as part of KeFactor Fridays. Lucy will be taking a hiatus to work on her business, but we wish her all the best and hope she will return as our guest blogger in the future. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting "The Best of KeFactor Friday." For more information on Lucy, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @KeFactors.

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