January 28, 2010

How to Handle Customer Complaints


Hostway Team

By Winmark Business Solutions

Maintaining and operating a business enables entrepreneurs to offer and sell a product or service they feel passionate and excited about. Unfortunately, when operating a business there is always the chance of incurring less-than pleasant experiences from your customer base from time to time. When you offer a product or service to a customer who is not satisfied, you ultimately have to face the reality of dealing with unhappy customers. When customer complaints arise there are always appropriate and effective ways of dealing with the situation in an attempt to rectify the problem and maintain the client as a future customer.

Here are some steps you can take when handling customer complaints:

  • Listen carefully to your customer. Don't interrupt or tell the customer to calm down. Show that you care about the issue and want to improve the situation as quickly as possible.
  • Feel the pain of the customer, emphasize with them, and tell them that you can understand how they feel. Let them vent to you hear out their concerns and frustrations.
  • Make sure their complaint is taken seriously. You need to write down the complaint, fill out the proper paperwork, and make sure that the complaint is on file. Also, inform the store manager and any other staff members about the problem.
  • Apologize for the inconvenience and mean it. Let the customer know you are sincerely sorry for the situation.
  • Ask the customer what will make them happy or what their desired outcome would be. It is important to ask them what they suggest to do since it implies that you care about their opinion.
  • Assure the customer you will fix the problem and then fix the problem right away. Do not delay; the longer you take, the harder it will be to make the customer happy again.
  • Thank the customer for being patient and sharing their experience and let them know their patronage is appreciated.

When operating your business, remember it is important to share your customer philosophy of how to handle customer complaints in your workplace with each of your employees in their training program. Making sure all the employees are on the same page and understand how to handle the situation will ensure these types of difficult conversations are handled professionally, justly, and in line with your mission.

About the Author

Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.

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