Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Complaints Bible: 10 Ways to Handle Customer Complaints Online

consumer-complaints-department

Hey let’s be honest it’s never been easier to complain about a business online. From third party websites to social media, there are literally hundreds of places begging for your content online. Consumers have used this leverage to their advantage and expectations have never been higher for your business.

We’ve reached a new point in consumer behavior where customers are demanding positive experiences. Great customer service has become it’s own religion, and that’s why I wrote my own short version of the Complaints bible today.

It’s incredible when you look at the things that some people will say after a negative experience. Yet for every great piece of reputation management advice out there, it seems there are 100 “experts” who want you to pay them to perform a magic trick and clean up your reputation in an instant.

Statistics show that the vast majority of businesses don’t respond to customer complaints. For whatever reason they don’t feel like it’s important enough to respond to them. I can tell you that a simple 5 minute response, or jotting down a note to share with the team will go a long way to preventing future negative reviews.

Do you know how to prevent customer complaints and protect your online reputation? Here’s 10 things to remember in what I call the Complaints bible:

1. Admit mistakes
Don’t stick your head in the sand. You are not perfect and certainly make mistakes. The first chapter of the Complaints bible starts with humility. If you cannot admit mistakes you will never come across as authentic. Customers will see right through your fake apology. Don’t be like the typical fast food company that ignores their customers and assumes they will never leave them. Go ask McDonald’s how that is going for them.

2. Reach out
Contact customers who are upset, and as you will read later you need to do so quickly. Reach out to them by phone or in person if possible. If that doesn’t work then use email or the most personable form of communication you can. There are many great companies that have examples of awesome customer service online. Copy them if you need to.

3. Be honest
Tell consumers the truth and think of the customer like a Saint. They have been wronged and are flawless in your eyes. Be honest and transparent because they have already heard enough lies. Don’t lie, please just don’t even try to. Customers are smarter than you think.

4. Fix it
Make it right if at all possible. That doesn’t mean bending over backwards if they are being unreasonable, but if the customer has a valid complaint then treat it like Gospel. You are at fault and it’s on you to make it right and take responsibility for what happened to them.

5. Find the root
There is a root cause of the complaint you might not realize. If you simply fix the issue and don’t address “why” it happened you will simply repeat the process again the next time a complaint pops up. Work smarter not harder.

6. Share it
Sharing complaints with your team is a great way to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Knowledge can greatly reduce or even eliminate these kinds of confusions in the future. You have to share it with your team because trust me the customer has already shared it with everyone they know. The average person shares their opinions with hundreds of people each month.

7. Go further
More than just fixing the problem, offer help about what to do next. You got them in a pickle and it’s your job to get them out of then put them back on track to success. If you can make it right then go above and beyond after it’s fixed.

8. Don’t blame
The time for blame is not now. Don’t seek fault and focus 100% on fixing the situation. It’s not the customers fault either. You wouldn’t care where the money came from when the customer paid you, so don’t try to assign blame now that there is an issue with your social currency.

9. Be personal
Treating the customer like a dollar sign is what got you here. Put the personal back in personal service and treat them like you would want to be treated. The age of personal and authentic customer service is here. You can see this in companies like Zappos who make it a goal to not just serve but delight every customer who uses them.

10. Move fast
The last chapter of the Complaints bible has to do with speed. Don’t delay on answering their complaint. For every second that goes by they are sharing their problem with more people, and getting more upset. You don’t know have important the problem is, or how much it’s costing them to to continue to have this issue.

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