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Dealing With Customer Complaints: 6 Easy Steps for Turning Negative Feedback Into a Positive Experience

No matter the kind of business you run, you're going to have to deal with customer complaints eventually. But how you handle them can mean the difference between a one-time hiccup and a long-term problem.

Responding to customer complaints is essential to maintaining a positive relationship with your customers and safeguarding your business reputation. As a matter of fact, research has shown that as much as 83% of customers feel more loyal to brands that respond to and resolve their complaints.

So, how can you turn negative feedback into a positive experience that results in improved customer satisfaction and increased customer retention? 

1. Listen to the customer and acknowledge the complaint

When a customer complains, it's important to listen carefully and acknowledge the complaint. Often, a customer complaint is a sign of an ongoing problem that needs to be solved. What's more, acknowledging customer complaints shows that you're taking their concerns seriously and are interested in resolving the issue.

Once you've acknowledged the complaint, you can begin working on a solution. If you're not sure how to resolve the issue, consider asking the customer for their input. They may have some good ideas about how to fix the problem. 

Keep in mind that, even if you can't completely solve the problem, you can still take steps to improve the situation. For example, if a customer is unhappy with a product, you might offer them a discount on their next purchase. Even a small gesture like this one can make your customer service stand out.


2. Know which type of customer you're dealing with

If you want to resolve customer complaints successfully, it's good to know which type of complainer you're dealing with so you can adjust your approach. According to a study, there are five types of customers, each of them with different motivations, beliefs, and attitudes:

Unhappy customers who don't complain

Just because the customer doesn't complain, doesn't mean they're happy. If you don't ask for feedback actively, this type of customer will bottle up all their concerns and eventually turn to a competitor.

How to handle: Be proactive in asking for comments and concerns, otherwise you risk quietly losing a customer.

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Confrontational customers who complain directly

When dealing with an angry customer, there's no point in offering reasons why your product or service wasn't up to their standard. This type of customer will perceive them as excuses, which results in even more frustration.

How to handle: Practice active listening, agree that there is a problem, and offer a solution with a timeline.

Customers who are ready to pay well and expect great treatment in return

Probably the best type of complaining customer out there. Most of the time, this type of customer has a reasonable complaint and expects you to solve the problem.

How to handle: Acknowledge the complaint, ask questions to get more information, and correct the situation.

Customers who complain for profit

No matter what solution you offer, it's never good enough. That's because this type of customer isn't interested in getting their problem solved. What they are interested in is getting something they aren't entitled to and they will complain tirelessly in order to get it.

How to handle: Remain calm and objective in your assessment of the situation. Aim to resolve legitimate complaints, but avoid giving into unreasonable demands.

Customers who are never satisfied

If you're dealing with a chronically dissatisfied customer, for every complaint you resolve there's another one around the corner. And while this type of customer might be frustrating to deal with, you still can't afford to ignore them because it would reflect poorly on your customer service.

How to handle: Despite the incessant complaining, this type of customer is usually loyal and will spread the word about the positive customer service experience. It takes a lot of patience, but what this customer wants is for you to listen, offer an apology, and make an honest effort.

3. Respond quickly

When you receive a customer complaint, it's important to take care of it as quickly as possible through Contact Center outsourcing if needed. As much as 71% of customers said that a quick response from the customer service team drastically improves customer experience analytics. So, the longer you wait to respond to a customer's complaint, the more upset the customer will become. Outsourcing companies specializing in customer service can help businesses maintain a swift response rate to customer complaints, ensuring a positive impact on customer experience analytics.

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4. Use positive language and ask for feedback

It's easy to get wrapped up in the negativity of a customer complaint, but remember that complaints are an opportunity to turn a customer’s experience around. By using positive language and asking for feedback, you can turn a complaint into a positive experience for both the customer and your business.

When responding to a customer complaint, always use positive language. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid acknowledging the problem altogether. Instead, focus on the solution and how you can help the customer. For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry our product didn’t meet your expectations,” try “We want to do everything we can to make sure you’re satisfied with our product. Can you tell me more about what wasn’t meeting your needs?”

In addition to using positive language, it’s also important to ask for feedback. This shows the customer that you care about their experience and want to make things right. Feedback also provides valuable insight into where your business might need improvement. When asking for feedback, be specific in what you want to know and avoid yes or no questions. For example, instead of asking “Was there something wrong with the product?” try “What specifically wasn’t working for you with our product?”.

5. Take responsibility

If a customer feels like they've been wronged, the first step is to take responsibility for the situation. This can be difficult, but it's important to take responsibility for any mistakes that may have been made, even if they were not made by you personally. This will show the customer that you are willing to work with them to resolve the issue.

Once you have taken responsibility for the situation, it’s time to start working on a solution. This may involve apologizing to the customer, refunding their purchase, or simply providing them with more information about the product or service they are using. Whatever the solution may be, it’s important to ensure that the customer feels like their complaint has been heard and addressed.

6. Don't forget to follow up

Once you've addressed the complaint and found a solution, you have to make sure it actually solved the customer's problem. Whether you follow up by sending the customer a personal message, email or via a phone call, express your sincere motivation to make things right.

Thank them for their feedback and let them know that you'll be taking steps to improve your business based on their input. Invite them to contact you again if they have any further questions or concerns. By following up with your customers, you're showing that you care about their experience and are committed to providing the best possible service.

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Final thoughts

While they're not always pleasant to deal with, customer complaints can be a great opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one. By following these six tips, you can make sure that your customers feel heard and respected by turning their negative experience into a positive one. 

And while not every customer is always right, dealing with customer complaints in a professional manner reflects positively on your business. At the end of the day, customers are more likely to come back and recommend your business’s services or products when they feel valued.

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Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.