How To Respond To Customer Complaints

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Running a successful business with a large customer base is fantastic. But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, no matter the size, nature, or success of your business. 

It’s commonplace for customers to leave feedback throughout your entire business journey, and not all of that feedback will be positive. The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be difficult to respond to these complaints. 

Whether you view customer complaints in a negative or positive light, feedback will help you grow your business. Here are some ways to respond to customer complaints without damaging your reputation any further. 

The Top Online Reputation Management Companies to Respond to Customer Complaints 

If you need help with managing your business reputation and want to learn how to respond to customer complaints effectively, here are the best options: 

  • WebiMax — Best for small businesses that need a hands-on solution
  • NetReputation – Best for ultra-responsive customer support
  • InternetReputation.com – Best for personal reputation management
  • Reputation Defense Network — Best for permanently removing false content
  • Podium — Best for getting reviews automatically
  • SEO Image — Best for legal and medical practices
  • Gadook — Best for rebranding after reputation attacks
  • BirdEye — Best for getting Google and Facebook reviews
  • Reputation.com — Best for knowing your competition’s reputation
  • Go Fish Digital — Best for improving Yelp reviews
  • Netmark.com — Best for hands-off, fast responses to reputation hits

You can read our full reviews of each online reputation management company here

7 Steps to Respond to Customer Complaints 

Responding to customer complaints doesn’t just mean apologizing and logging off for the day. Here are seven crucial steps to help you respond without further damaging your reputation: 

  1. Listen to the customer’s complaint 
  2. Identify the type of customer you are dealing with 
  3. Respond quickly
  4. Apologize and thank the customer
  5. Present a solution
  6. Log the complaint
  7. Incorporate changes using customer feedback 

The Easy Parts of Responding to Customer Complaints 

You may already be aware that receiving customer complaints is one of the easiest parts of running a business due to advances in technology, as many people use customer service portals. But what most people don’t realize is how easy it is to protect your reputation online. 

Protecting and improving your online reputation has never been easier with online reputation management companies. WebiMax is a leading digital marketing agency that specializes in reputation management for small businesses. 

WebiMax reputation management page

The best part about WebiMax is that it is customizable to your needs, and its system evolves with Google’s everchanging algorithm. Working under a non-disclosure agreement, WebiMax ensures that all crisis management and positive branding are discreet. 

Whether you need help to improve your positive branding or an expert to monitor and manage your brand 24/7, WebiMax can do all the hard work for you as you continue to improve your business strategy and receive fewer complaints. 

The Difficult Parts of Responding to Customer Complaints 

When you first receive a customer complaint, the most difficult aspect is not knowing what to say or how to articulate yourself well enough. Miscommunication is common via text and email, so it’s important to take a brief moment to process the complaint before responding. 

Miscommunication certainly goes both ways, and sometimes customers can come across as more aggressive than they were intending to be. However, responding effectively doesn’t have to be difficult, especially after following the below steps. 

Step 1: Listen to the Customer’s Complaint

Before you even begin to form a response in your head, type it out, or reach for your phone, you need to listen to the customer’s complaint and understand it to the best of your ability. Taking a moment to process the complaint by truly understanding your customer will help you get to the root of the problem quickly and allow you to handle the complaint appropriately. 

After processing the complaint, you need to determine what the customer is trying to tell you. To do this efficiently, you should do two things: 

  • Identify the reason why your customer is dissatisfied 
  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes 

Identifying why your customer is complaining will help you get to the root of the problem while putting yourself in your customer’s shoes helps create an empathetic environment before responding.

Step 2: Identify the Type of Customer You Are Dealing With 

Form an appropriate response to your customer’s complaint by identifying the type of customer you are dealing with. Generally, there are three different types of customers, and all three will need you to approach the situation differently.

Is the Customer Aggressive? 

Usually, aggressive customers aren’t afraid to tell you when they are upset, even if the complaint seems minor to you. In these situations, you should respond with firm politeness and avoid mirroring their aggressiveness.

Is the Customer Complaining Frequently? 

Customers who make complaints frequently tend to be frustrating to deal with. However, it’s essential that you stay patient and react calmly. 

It can also be a good idea to follow up with these customers and make sure everything is running smoothly on their end. Following up not only shows the customer that you are proactive and care about fixing the issue, but it also prevents the customer from complaining again in the future about the same issue. 

Is the Customer Loyal? 

A loyal customer has either been using your services for a long period or is paying for premium support. These customers should be a priority to respond to and resolve any conflict with. 

Aim to offer a solution quickly and make sure the customer knows you are being proactive about the situation. It’s always a good idea to create a VIP or premium support folder, making it easier to respond to and identify their specific complaints. 

Step 3: Respond Quickly

Whether your customer is loyal or not, it’s imperative to promptly respond to all complaints to avoid losing customers or encouraging a bad online reputation. 

Address Every Customer Complaint 

Even if you can’t resolve an issue swiftly, you should still always address every customer in a caring way. If it turns out that you can’t solve an issue within the hour, let your customer know this and give them a rough timeframe on when you will be able to solve the issue. 

Failing to address your customer’s complaints might lead them to believe that you don’t care enough about the issue, which, in most cases, certainly worsens the situation. 

Consider An Automatic Response 

You should never sound robotic in your response to customers. However, if you are busy with the day-to-day, you should consider setting up an automatic response message to let your customers know that you will get back to them in a certain amount of time. 

Step 4: Apologize and Thank the Customer 

When the time comes to respond to your customer’s complaint, you should offer an apology and thank the customer for letting you know their feedback. 

Express Empathy 

After apologizing and thanking the customer, try your best to express empathy by explaining your understanding of the situation. If possible, try to recognize what the customer may have lost from experiencing the issue and let them know that you understand this and that it was unacceptable to have happened in the first place. 

Avoid Deflecting Blame or Being Passive Aggressive 

The most difficult part of dealing with complaints is responding to the customers when you aren’t sure what to say. Because texting comes with a lot of miscommunication and tone issues, it’s imperative that you try your best to avoid deflecting blame or being passive-aggressive in your response. 

You don’t have to agree with every single customer, but what you should do is empathize with someone who is sharing their disappointing experience. Avoid responses like “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and instead try, “I’m sorry that you have experienced this issue with us. How can we make this better for you?” 

When it comes to apologizing to the customer, it’s always best to ask them what they need from you—especially if they haven’t already stated this in their complaint. 

Step 5: Present a Solution 

Presenting an appropriate solution to the customer is an essential step when responding to a complaint. It allows you to show the customer you are serious about preventing the issue from ever recurring. 

Let the Customer Know You Have Identified the Issue 

First and foremost, you can only present a solution to an issue you have identified and understood, so you should lead with this in your response. 

Explain How You Will Prevent the Issue From Recurring 

Sometimes this is not always possible, especially with technical issues, as technology can be unpredictable. However, if it is possible, it’s always a good idea to explain how you will prevent this issue from recurring in the future. 

For example, if an issue arises due to slow customer support, you could say: “We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. We are working on hiring a dedicated customer support team to prevent this from happening again.” 

Verify That the Problem Has Been Solved 

After presenting a solution, verify that the solution has worked for the customer. The last thing you want is recurring complaints, and the best way to avoid this is to verify. 

If you can’t verify within the hour, it’s best to follow up with the customer. If you are dealing with a customer through a customer service portal, you should consider monitoring any satisfaction ratings you receive afterward. 

Usually, a negative satisfaction rating means that the customer was unhappy with the service, so following up is best in this situation too, as it makes sure you don’t need to address any additional issues. 

Step 6: Log the Complaint 

It’s not worth logging every complaint you receive, especially if it’s a one-off. But if you receive multiple complaints from different customers about the same issue, logging these will help you resolve issues faster and sometimes prevent them from happening altogether. 

Track Trends

Logging the same complaints allows you to track trends and figure out what you should be doing differently to prevent the issue from recurring. Log the complaint, monitor how often you receive similar ones, and reach out to each customer after resolving them is the easiest way to track trends within your business strategy. 

Manage High-Volume Complaints with WebiMax

Not only does WebiMax help small businesses manage their reputation, but it also offers a free reputation analysis to get started. The reputation analysis takes an in-depth look into your online presence and forms a report on everything you need to know to turn your reputation around.

WebiMax "Start With a Free Reputation Analysis" page

You can manage high-volume complaints through WebiMax by investing in its content deletion feature or by simply getting a report on all the negative content that exists online and how long it will take to remove it. 

Step 7: Incorporate Changes Using Customer Feedback

After receiving and responding to customer complaints, it’s time to put your words into action. Not every single complaint requires you to change your business strategy, but that’s why you need to monitor your complaints in the first place. 

If you receive a high volume of complaints surrounding a similar issue, you need to change something. To figure out if you need to implement a new business strategy, you must listen to your customers, track trends, and draw connections between complaints. 

Whether you run a small business or not, you should have a team meeting to discuss any changes in strategy. It’s better to have more people to brainstorm with, especially if you aren’t sure how to incorporate the feedback. 

If you are an individual, we would still recommend meeting with a professional in reputation management, or simply investing in an online system like WebiMax, to help you understand what you need to do better.


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