If you are in business in any way, shape or form, you will ultimately be faced with the situation of how to handle consumer complaints.

No one can please all of the people all of the time and that goes for doing business also. To effectively continue doing business while at the same time attracting new customers, you need to be able to successfully resolve consumer complaints. PissedConsumer

This area of doing business should be just as important as creative marketing, because in essence, it is just that. How you, your business and your employees address complaints will either be viewed as successful marketing or simply “shooting yourself in the foot.”

Ample time should be spent on targeting the topic and providing adequate training to make sure each and everyone involved is on the “same page” when it comes to acting upon complaints.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

1. The number one human need is to be heard and understood. Keep this in mind when listening to the initial complaint. Listen to the entire complaint without offering any advice or suggestions until the consumer is finished. How you respond initially will set the tone and ultimately the outcome of how the consumer will view the final outcome or resolution.

2. Validate the consumer’s feelings of frustration at not being satisfied with either the product or the service of the company. Everyone and every business will make mistakes. The first words that the consumer should hear are, “I’m sorry…”

3. Don’t play the “blame game.” First of all, don’t blame the consumer or start blaming others in the organization – this will only undermine your credibility or your authority. Don’t offer excuses, this will undermine the validity of the complaint. This action will usually be construed by the consumer as just “passing the buck.”

4. If it is a matter that needs further investigation, by all means do just that, but at all times and in all areas, keep the consumer informed of the progress of that investigation. Even if you do not have any definitive information as of yet, relay that to the consumer also. Don’t wait until the consumer gets irritated at not being kept in the loop and calls you back. This destroys all of the good efforts up to this point.

5. Offer a fair and equitable resolution. Most of the time, how the consumer is treated initially will be the resolution in itself. Considerate consumers will be the first to recognize the sincerity of the apology and will react accordingly. This will be a successful resolution for both parties.

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