Handling Customer Complaints

Handling customer complaints in a positive manner can be very profitable for the business. Research shows that in the average service business, one registered complaint was indicative of fifty unregistered complaints. The interesting part of the research is that the fifty unregistered complainers will warn at least five other people without being and asked. And, the five other people will warn two or more without being asked…that is potentially 500 people that can have a negative impact on the business.

There are six very simple, time proven steps for successfully handling complaints. Once these are learned and implemented, complaints are turned into customer good will:

  1. Sympathize–  A complainer is angry and expects resistance. By sympathizing instead, the wind is taken out of their sails. You can back it up with, “Well no wonder you are upset Mr. X!  Remember, don’t meet them head on. Instead, sympathize with their problem.
  2. Reassure–  The customer has expected resistance and is afraid you will do nothing to fix the mistake.
  3. Eliminate Fear– Fear must be eliminated before the customer will want to or be able to talk reasonably with you. Say for example, “Certainly you know Mr. X, that well will do all we can.” Or, “I’m sure we can fix this up for you.” Or, “We wouldn’t have this happen for all the world”
  4. Investigate–  Find out exactly what is wrong.  People with complaints almost always generalize. They will start off by saying that all the work was lousy, when the fact is there is one spot that did not come out.
  5. Be Thorough– Get all the details, exactly what the complaint is, when, what, where, material, everything that might have a bearing.
  6. Be specific!