Dealing with unhappy customers comes with the territory of running a business. This is true for any start-up venture or long established enterprise. And although it may be impossible to please all the people all the time, this article tackles this sensitive issue. We offer some crisp insight into effectively responding to dissatisfied consumers – and arriving at appropriate solutions.
Understand and listen
Always seek to understand why the customer is unhappy. This is, of course, impossible if you don’t listen carefully. Listening can be extended beyond active listening as in the case of face-to-face interaction. It can include any communications platform, customer service channel or medium based on your business systems, where the client can be heard. It follows as well that monitoring complaints is equally crucial.
Understanding of this nature underpins sincerity, showing the displeased client that you are genuinely interested in both hearing them and being helpful.
Detach anger and negative emotions
In order to be effective as a manager, customer service representative or person in the firing line, you must do without the ’emotionalism’. This can be a challenge for many as unhappy clients and complaints are often accompanied by emotionally charged reactions.
It isn’t easy to hear critical statements about one’s business, service, products etc. – but always keep cool under the collar. When detached from feelings of anger and negativity one can make clearer, level-headed judgements and de-escalate volatile situations.
Offer empathetic response
If, as an owner or person in charge, you sincerely listen to the aggrieved client – while setting unsavoury emotions aside – then an empathetic response is likely to flow naturally. This response sets at ease the irate customer as he or she sees the listener as relating to the grievance or disappointment expressed by the customer.
From this platform it is far easier to engage in a civilised dialogue and spontaneously flow towards solving the problem.
Ultimately resolution or a solution must be the intended outcome. This may end up being as simple as an apology. But circumstances do differ, and not every complaint is the case of letting off steam alone. There are legitimate instances where a customer has been compromised in one or more ways and subsequently more extensive redress is needed. Sometimes it is best to refund a purchase or supply a new product, versus the cost of a negative brand ambassador who could severely tarnish the brand’s reputation in the long term.
One should also note that failure to address the issue of dissatisfactory service and unhappy customers head on, can lead to a sharp decline in a business sales, reputation and sustainability. If well grasped and diligently implemented, these five guidelines will yield great results in delicate areas of customer service.
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