No business wants to deal with angry customers, yet they’re inevitabile when you’re dealing in the public sphere. Best efforts aside, you can’t please everyone all of the time. There are guaranteed to be some customers who simply aren’t satisfied. Equally, even the best businesses may face mistakes, faulty goods, and all manner of other such issues.
With all this in mind, facing rather than avoiding frustrated consumers is fundamental to success. In fact, with many businesses finding complaints a chance to turn things around, tackling this issue could take you further than ever before.
Sadly, companies often implement inadequate complaints procedures that exacerbate rather than solve dissatisfaction. This is a significant setback, as it pretty much puts an end to any promise of repeat custom. Annoy that angry consumer enough, and they’ll even let their friends know not to bother.
If you find complainants are always at the end of their tether when they’re done with you, then it’ a sure sign you should consider the following possible ways you’re worsening the issue.
# 1 – Convoluted complaints processes
When a customer complains, they do so because they’re already frustrated with your company. At this stage, they may believe you’re unprofessional, inept, or generally just fail to put consumers first. Your only chance of overcoming this is to put easy procedures in place that turn such assumptions on their heads.
By comparison, convoluted complaints processes that involve various departments, forms, and procedures, are guaranteed to get an already-angry customer’s blood boiling more. These alone will confirm their suspicions, and will never turn their thinking in your favor no matter how hard you try.
The best thing to do here is to centralize your complaint’s procedure with one key department, who can work with a consumer for the simplest possible complaint tracking/handling processes. This team can then take initial complaints and handle the rest behind the scenes so consumers don’t have to worry. This dedicated focus could even see team members phoning to update customers about their case progress for service that even the angriest complainant won’t be able to fault.
# 2 – Long call waiting times
Nothing frustrates an already angry customer more than long call wait times littered with transference from one department to another. Remember, simple is always best, and a phone call that takes over an hour just to land with the right member of your team definitely doesn’t fit that requirement.
Luckily, there are various ways to tackle this. Most notably in recent years, companies have utilized either automated chatbots or live chat web features to get off on the right footing. While you can’t solve complaints this way without further irritation, you should be able to give complainants the right advice/department number to see them straight through to the correct team that can handle their issue first time.
Once you’ve taken care of that, you also need to think about your call wait times themselves. You could have the best hold music in the world, after all, but a half an hour plus wait will still exacerbate things. Some companies choose to tackle this with a callback service that allows consumers to keep their place in the wait queue while carrying on with their days. Others will turn to an outsourced answerphone service as offered by companies like Virtual Headquarters, which allows for automated diversions to an outside receptionist during high volume call times. While such services again can’t deal with complaints for you, they can, at least, provide a personal answering service before waits drag on, as well as connecting callers directly where they need to go.
# 3 – Poorly trained staff
Complaints handling-based staff training is a business fundamental. With your team’s professionalism often coming under fire, they need the know-how to prove their product knowledge, customer service, and overall business experience. What they don’t need is a weak training basis that leaves them floundering in front of an agitated consumer. Talk about the nail in the coffin!
Again, this issue becomes easier to deal with when you have a dedicated complaints department on-site, as you can focus the central part of this training precisely where it needs to go to improve communications. Even in this instance, though, some general complaints training for the rest of your team is sure to prove useful. You never know when they may come face to face with a raging consumer, after all!
As a general rule, the most important thing here is to make sure that every member of your team understands your complaints processes to some extent. If a consumer is met with a blank stare and a stuttered answer when they attempt to return something, it’s pretty much game over.
Equally, general customer service training courses are fantastic for teaching consumers how to defuse a potentially volatile customer and how to turn things in your company’s
# 4 – An unwillingness on your part
They don’t lie when they say the customer is always right. If you refuse to exchange or refund a product for any reason, you’re looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. Instead, you should be more than willing to address complaints, no matter how out-of-the-box they seem to you. You could be outright convinced a customer has broken a product themselves, and you should still meet their demands with a refund and even a good-will gesture like money-off for their trouble in the majority of cases.
The fact is that an argument with a customer is one you can never win. Worse, the incentive this will provide said angry consumer to spread the dirt on you is inevitably going to cost more than a new product in the first place! As such, you should hammer home the customer is always right incentive to every member of your staff. Sure, you might need to take a hit now, but you can bet that happy complainant will be a hell of a lot more lucrative moving forward.