Handling customer complaints does not sound like fun for most business leaders. They would rather spend their time building strategies, attracting new business, and ensuring that their people achieve their respective targets for their Key Responsibility Areas (KRAs).
Research states that many companies do not pay enough attention to handling customer complaints effectively. Or the task is generally left to customer support and the newly introduced designation – the Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Fewer than 50% of customers receive a response from the company after lodging a complaint, and those who do often see it as unsatisfactory.
But customer complaints are much more than just grievances of dissatisfied customers or issues that need to be solved quickly.
In this article, we’ll discuss the following topics:
- The benefits of handling customer complaints effectively
- The tools needed to manage and resolve customer complaints. The benefits of handling customer complaints effectively
- Customer complaints handling tips
So let’s deep dive into a crucial pillar on which the success of every company rests.
Benefits of Handling Customer Complaints
While customer complaints could make people shudder, it’s a highly useful action that enables the company to achieve its goals. Some benefits of this step are:
- Complaints are a powerful source of market intelligence for companies. They can identify patterns in these complaints to understand shifts in customers’ buying and usage patterns and adapt accordingly to stay relevant in the market.
- Companies can identify root causes of problems and fix them not just for customers who complain but also the ones who haven’t. Thus they can improve their product or service and increase overall customer satisfaction. Complaints are a powerful source of market intelligence for companies. They can identify patterns in these complaints to understand shifts in customers’ buying and usage patterns and adapt accordingly to stay relevant in the market.
- Customers satisfied with resolutions are more likely to purchase from the company again. Improved repeat purchase reduces marketing spend on sales by up to 90% compared to that for a first-time buyer
- Satisfied customers are more likely to share referrals with a company when asked, which become warm leads for the company to convert into customers
- Handling customer grievances well improves the overall efficiency and effectiveness of companies
Now that you know why addressing customers’ issues is important, let’s discuss the tools to need to streamlines your processes.
5 Important Tools for an Effective Customer Complaint Management Process
Customers gauge a company’s support system is by comparing their expectation concerning a company’s complaint handling process with their perceptions. To deliver a positive and predictable level of customer experience, the following tools are a must-have for every company.
1. Service Desk Support System
A service desk system functions as a single point of contact between your support team and your customers. It enables your people to log and create resolution tickets, take care of incidence management, and lets leaders monitor SLAs, problem types, agent efficiency, and more.
An effective support system streamlines this task even further by enabling customers to raise support tickets directly and assigning it to respective departments based on the predefined escalation matrix.
2. IT Service Management (ITSM)
ITSM is a set of processes, policies and procedures to manage, implement, improve and support customer-oriented services. Companies that want to deliver valuable services to customers deploy ITSM because it facilitates the entire process better.
ITSM covers many frameworks that vary by outcome and industry. Some of them include IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), COBIT, Business Process Frameworks, Six Sigma, and more.
3. Listening Tools
With the rise of social media, many customers (especially millennials) don’t want to go through the hassle of raising a support ticket on a company’s website or even calling customer care. They simply write on the brand Facebook page or mention its handle in their tweets. Sometimes, a customer might even vent out his frustration about a brand without tagging it.
If your company has to address customer grievances well, it cannot ignore social media, blog articles, and other places where it gets mentioned positively or negatively. This is where monitoring tools like Hootsuite and Mention prove useful. You can enter branded keywords in these tools and monitor their mentions. In fact, you can also monitor complaints against your competitors and turn their unhappy customers into your customers.
4. The attitude of Employees
Statistics state that employee responses largely influence a customer’s perception of the company’s overall complaint handling process, especially in face-to-face or situations telephone calls. This is why it’s important to keep your employees motivated and build the attitude to solve customers’ problems in them.
Monitor the engagement between your people and customers and provide training to ensure that they’re doing what’s right. If your people don’t have the right attitude, all the resources you invest in infrastructure and technology will account for null.
5. Attitude of Leaders
Employees attitude gets reflected in the attitude of their managers and leaders. In today’s times, what we do holds more weight than what we say. If managers and leaders don’t possess the attitude to be helpful towards customers, the employees will follow suit. Likewise, if the leaders are proactive and care about resolving customer issues, employees will do the same.
Keep an eye on the attitude of leaders in your organization. Only when they walk the talk can you expect your employees to do the right thing
Best Practices to Handle Customer Complaints Like a Pro
1. Address the Situation
It’s easy for employees to get carried away with the tone or words of irate customers (they’re human after all). As a result, they could get overwhelmed by emotion and address the wrong problem and make the situation worse. Or they could get carried away by their own emotions and mock customers for their ignorance. Neither scenario is constructive.
Train your people to put emotions aside and address the situation instead of addressing the person, to treat customers like intelligent people who don’t know much about the product.
This will make them better problem solvers and improve your customer’s experience.
2. Make Customers Feel Understood
Customers certainly want their complaints to get resolved. But before that, they need assurance that their issue has been understood properly. Otherwise, they’ll constantly be unsure about whether the company will solve the real issue.
Customers won’t believe just being told that their problem is understood. The best way to do so is to make your employees rephrase their issue in their own words. When they say, “that’s right,” it means you’ve understood their problem. This doesn’t just reassure customers that their problem will get solved; it also means that your people will solve the right problem.
3. Flexibility is Important
Business leaders often design processes in boardrooms that are cut away from on-ground reality and impose them upon their staff and customers. Such suffocating processes don’t just make customers unhappy but also the employees.
A process is good for common circumstances but it should not be carved in stone. The companies that handle customer complaints most effectively allow their people closest to the ground the flexibility to make decisions that resolve the customers’ issues. Delegate decision making to soldiers on the ground and you’ll reap the long-term rewards.
4. Focus on Resolutions
Many customer service desks use the first response as a metric to measure performance. This is harmful because a first response can be automated which means that it serves no purpose.
Instead, use the speed of resolution as a metric to measure the effectiveness of handling customer complaints in your organization. The higher the speed, the more optimally your resources get utilized.
5. Follow Up with Customers
A common mistake that many companies commit is to assume that a customer’s issue is resolved when they close the ticket. This may not always be the case. A customer whose issue is not resolved may not complain about the same but will simply take his business to your competitor.
Follow up with your customers after their complaints have been resolved to check whether they’re really satisfied. You can ask them to fill feedback forms or call them if needed. If you cannot connect with these customers for a response, a useful metric is to track whether they do repeat business with you. If they’re not buying from you again, it could be an indication that their problem is not solved.
Customers don’t like to complain about. But they do so when they have no choice. Don’t treat customers’ complaints as a headache. Use it as a powerful resource to improve operations and functions in your business. Use it to make life easier for customers instead of trying to delight them.
Handling customer complaints effectively will enhance customer experience and make your business enjoy long-term rewards.