Successfully Managing Client Complaints

Unsolicited client feedback is never easy to stomach, especially if it’s made public. However, if you can properly manage client criticism – in whatever form – the chances are high that unsatisfied customers will give you a second chance and possibly recommend your business.

Very often, clients will only complain when they feel frustrated. According to studies, almost 70% of clients will walk away from a trusted company if they feel like they are being neglected, which means that the way in which you handle feedback can determine whether or not you lose a client.

Turn your client’s feedback into a positive and productive experience by following these simple yet effective steps:

Categorise your client and manage your response

The reality is that there are a multitude of different clients and the trick to successful resolution is to identify who you are talking to. Some clients respond better to a hands-on approach, while others are happy to leave you to find a solution to their problem. Here are three common examples and how to respond to them:

1.    The Passive Customer

With a general aversion to confrontation or communication, the quiet client will only complain when incredibly frustrated. The quiet client will probably feel like a burden which is why it is imperative that you try and find out more by gently investigating the cause of the matter.

2.    The Confrontational Customer

Often, the aggressive customer will voice his or her feedback with little concern of the repercussions. They are not afraid to share what is on their mind and will easily butt heads with anyone who responds in a confrontational or accusatory tone. The best way in which to respond to an aggressive customer is with a firm but polite tone that exudes respect and pleasantness.

3.    The ‘VIP’ Customer

Think of the high roller as the type of customer that pays well and demands premium and unconditional support for it. With an aversion to excuses or unsubstantiated claims, this type of customer will not respond well to being treated like anyone else. Be prepared for high-paying consumers and ensure a workflow or process that caters to their needs.

Avoid passive-aggressive behaviour

Often, the most common response is the one that is least effective. Avoid common service clichés like ‘we’re sorry to hear that you’re having this problem’ which can often defer the blame and make the customer feel as if they are being neglected. The best way in which to respond is to apologise and accept that, whatever the feedback, the issue lies with you. In the event that a customer is being unreasonable, simply apologise and find a solution to the issue.

Listen to understand and not reply

When we’re faced with confrontational behaviour, our first response is to reply. However, in the event of a customer complaint, it is important to listen to understand. Instead of communicating via email, pick up the phone and talk to your client, and listen to what they have to say. Not only will this help you properly understand their concerns, but it will also make them feel as if they are being taken care of.

Identify the concern

The chances are high that, when you client complains, they will be specific about their concerns. The best way in which to find a solutions-driven approach to complaints is to listen and then identify the complaint. Is your client complaining about service or about a malfunctioning device? Either way, you will need to identify or categorise the concern in order to find the correct approach to sorting it out.

Inquire, and give back

Perhaps your client has an issue with a product and the service but has only given feedback on the product. In an effort to better understand your client’s concerns and better the overall consumer experience, it is best to inquire about what else you can improve or change. In the same breath, it is important to give back to your client in the form of a discount, a voucher, or a promotional freebee to make them feel as if their business is important to you. In the event that you are at fault, be generous with compensation and your client will be quicker to forgive.

Confirm and follow up

Once you have established a way in which to deal with your client’s complaint, establish a connection through a phone call detailing your solution. Ensure that your client agrees with your course of action and let them know that you’ll provide them with feedback once you’ve reached a solution. It is always a good idea to follow up with a client after an issue is resolved to ensure that they are satisfied with the process. This will give your clients a reason to come back.

While negative feedback is always a challenge to deal with, it is imperative that you find a solution as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Not only will them ensure a consoled client, but it will also ensure future business.