You should always strive to provide the best customer experience, sure.
But let me tell you how it often goes.
The phone rings.
It’s still early in the morning, you just switched your line on while waiting for coffee to brew. A potential customer is calling. Perhaps they want to place an order. Or ask few questions, surely you can turn that into a sale too.
But you pick up the phone only to be greeted with a customer screaming at you with rage.
Customer complaints do happen, no point in denying this. Issues with orders, faulty products, items shipped to wrong address or a wrong quantity posted, it all happens. Not often but it does.
And while most of the time customers may be quite understanding about any problems with getting their products, they are much quicker to get irritated during the holidays season.
It makes sense too. We all want our gifts to arrive before Christmas. Any delay or problem with orders means that whatever you bought for your loved ones and friends puts getting the stuff on time at risk.
On the other hand, the amount of problems with orders increases during this time of the year. You now have more orders to process and a lot of pressure to have it done on time.
And, in the middle of this you have to deal with customer complaints.
Knowing how to react to those is key, not only to solve the problem but also, to retain the customer.
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to do so.
There are two things you need first,
1. A Clear Plan Of Action
It doesn’t matter that your store might not be generating any sales yet. An order might come any time and so might a complaint and you should be prepared.
Many stores wait until a complaint comes to figure out what they are going to do but that’s way too late. Know how you will react to a complaint from the day one so you won’t be caught off guard.
2. A Returns Policy
Most problems you encounter relate to the actual order, naturally.
Either the customer received not the product they were expecting (because they ordered a wrong one or an incorrect item was shipped to them) or it arrived damaged. In any case, you should have a returns policy worked out. You should also check the return policies of your wholesalers so that you know exactly what you can and can do to your customers.
This becomes even more prominent issue if you run a drop shipping business. When you handle all aspect of processing an order to a 3rd party, you can never be sure what has been done and how.
Therefore, you need to know what sort of returns policies your manufacturer or drop shipping company work by so you can quickly react and help the customer.
One of the most important aspects of handling complaints is dealing with customers. If you do it well, you can turn even the angriest consumer into a loyal fan. For that to happen though, you need to do few things:
Understand The Problem
First and foremost, you need to understand their problem. What actually went wrong? Was the product delivered faulty or is this just a wrong item purchased. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish those from what the client says, especially if they are at the edge of screaming (which sometimes happens).
Be patient and listen to a customer carefully, let them vent off and then try to establish what the problem really is.
After all, the customer is going through a stressful time. And perhaps the problem with the order might mess up their holidays. Offer them your empathy; acknowledge that you understand how stressful this situation is for them.
Acknowledge Their Anger
Nothing irritates customers more than when you try to calm them down. Instead, acknowlege that they are angry and have a reason to be.
Don’t Debate Facts
The last thing you want to do with an angry customer is to discuss whether they are right or not. This will likely only throw them further off the edge. Instead, let them state the facts, apologize for their problems (without taking on blame) and proceed straight away to offering solutions.
Honestly, customers don’t want to hear apologies all the time. They want to know that their problem will be rectified asap and that’s the second thing, after keeping them under control, that you should be focusing on.
There is one last thing that I want to touch upon on, breaking rules. Sometimes the problem you are faced with is so specific that solving it through ordinary means might not cut it. You need to break the rules. The trouble is, what if you go too far?
From my experience, you should know the limit where you can go. Sometimes it is better to lose a customer than run into massive costs trying to solve their problem.
At the same time, there are times when you should try to fix things up for a customer at any cost.
Use common sense when deciding how far you can go but also, know your limits.
Customers will complain. Not all, however the numbers might go up around this time of the year. Every complaint though is a chance to magnify the good word on your customer service. And the success is in how you play it.