Turning customer complaints into Sales
Complaints offer companies an amazing insight and the chance to improve their services. However, many companies do not at all value them as much as they really should, and many try to avoid receiving them. Complaints shed light on where your company might fall short and where you could excel. Negative feedback can be used as a driving force behind product and service enhancements, new offerings, and outbound sales and marketing campaigns. Analyze each situation carefully.
You can never eliminate customer complaint. If you are running a business – no matter of what size – you will have at one point customers complaining. Some mistakes will happen regardless of how carefully you try to prevent them. Expect to get a few complaints periodically. It’s part of operating a business. But – you can and should plan for complaints. Proper planing will help you to make the best out of customer complaints. Always handle customer complaints with a positive attitude. Smile while talking to the customer on the phone or when you write an email. It does not matter if you are responsible for what happened or if the customer made a mistake and blames it on you. Make your customer happy now and he will reward you with more sales later on.
Surprise your customer with a fast response to his/her complaint. If you can’t solve the problem right away, make sure that you keep a good level of communication alive. Nothing bothers people more than the feeling of being ignored – especially in touchy situations like this. The longer a customer has to worry about getting the problem solved, the less likely he will accept a solution and remain your customer.
Grade the level of the complaint. If you did screw up – fix it. Don’t have the customer be responsible for your mistakes. Let the customer know that you made a mistake and what your plan is. Let him know what you learned from the situation and what you will do to prevent future situations from happening. If it is the customers fault, decide if it is worth keeping this customer. If the customer has never represented a problem and does not seem to be a troublemaker, it is well worth to keep him and to make him happy – if the price is reasonable. Don’t just only look at the short-term, but also consider the mid to long term.
You have decided to solve the issue and to take the blame. Congratulations. Take responsibility for resolving your customer’s complaint even if the problem was not your fault. Apologize for the inconvenience to the customer. Briefly summarize the situation and explain the cause of the problem. Don’t lie. But – good wording can help you here. Explaining your mistake in proper wording can still describe you as a person who knows what happened and still is in control. Don’t be blaming someone else for the problem. It sounds like a cheap excuse.
Now it is time to make the winning move and to turn this customer into a person creating referals for your business. Surprise him by solving the problem AND by giving the customer something extra to compensate him for the inconvenience. This will put the customer in the situation of having something received for free. He feels obligated and honored. He will feel he came out of the situation with a great deal at his hand. This helps the customer a) to forget about the initial problem he had and b) instead, he will remember the special attention you gave him when being asked about your services.
Follow-up with the client after a few days and again after a month. Make sure that the client is happy. Of course – make sure that if you caused the problem, that it won’t happen again. You might not have a second chance and the market out there is brutal. Your competitors are just waiting for your mistakes.
While others just move on after get a complaint out of the way, you should take the time write everything down. It could be just some sort of a journal or a professional complaint database software that you purchased. Keep track of every complaint and come back frequently to revisit each item. Make sure that you are not falling short of avoiding similar situations. Proper handling of a touchy situation, can result in increasing sales and higher customer satisfaction.