1. Admit that things go wrong
However good our products, however good our service, things do go wrong. Recognising this is the first step in handling complaints courteously and effectively.
2. Listen and empathise
Very often customers take things personally and complain with passion. Listen to a complaint and try to understand why the customer feels let down. Showing that you recognise their feeling of ‘hurt’ goes a long way to restoring their satisfaction.
3. Ignore blame
Trying to explain why something went wrong or blaming somewhere else is pointless if the damage has already been done and your company is responsible. The priority is to put things right.
4. Offer reasonable help
Where a problem has been caused by another company or by reasons not covered by your terms and conditions, offer what assistance is reasonable. Even though you may not have a contractual obligation, goodwill is often appreciated, especially where a customer feels helpless.
5. Do not respond to abuse
Unfortunately, some customers are liable to be abusive. Often someone may have convinced themselves that they have cause to complain when they do not. You do not have to put up with abusive or aggressive behaviour and, although difficult, it is best to respond politely. If a customer refuses to listen and maintains this behaviour, it is best to explain that you are unable to continue dealing with them until they calm down.
6. Turn upset to satisfaction
Very often, you can convert a dissatisfied customer into a loyal customer by the manner in which you handle their complaint. Few companies show any genuine care for their customers, so the time and energy you spend resolving a problem may be highly appreciated. Even when something has gone wrong, it is possible to achieve a good result – for everyone.
See the other polite prompts in our please and thanks courtesy toolkit.