Customer Complaints! 10 steps to go from Sinner to Saint!

Angry face developing into a happy face

Here’s a Simple System to transform an unhappy customer into a loyal advocate.

We live and breathe systems around here but we know that for some of you that S-word can be a bit of a turn off. So, substitute the word system for ‘the way we do things around here’ and this week here’s a great example of a Simple System, a ‘way’ of turning a customer from moaning to singing your praises!

Take our ten steps to heaven:

  1. Listen actively to what the Customer is saying. Let them get it off their chest. Restate your understanding to ensure that you’ve got the story straight and so that the Customer has confidence that you’ve fully understood the situation. 
  1. Deal promptly, never delay dealing with a complaint. If the Customer was angry day one, chances are they may be apoplectic by day three!
  1. Always start with a sorry, even if it’s not all your fault. Give your sorry space; give it time to register before you go any further. Make sure your sorry is genuine; you know with your own Customer hat on when something sounds sincere.
  1. Always try and speak to a Customer and then reinforce in writing. E-mail is fine but I think a letter has a bit more gravitas, if it’s been a monumental cock-up. ‘I am sincerely sorry for our error and I apologise for the trouble we’ve caused you. In this instance we’ve fallen well short of the standards to which we aspire. We’re taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again though I appreciate that may be of small consolation to you now. I hope you will accept xxxx and once again, please accept my apologies.’ Something along those lines. What would you like to receive if it was you?
  1. Fix things whenever possible and look for ways to make the Customer forget the original complaint by going the extra mile. The outstanding way you handle the complaint should win the Customer over and then money or a voucher is the icing on the cake. If you’re offering money/vouchers by way of apology make sure they match or over-match the mistake. (E.g. Being offered a £5 voucher if you’ve been on the phone for three days may be viewed as derisory).
  1. If it can’t be fixed there and then, take ownership of getting it put right and follow up afterwards. Manage expectations if necessary.
  1. Don’t blame the business you’ve outsourced to; you are ultimately responsible. If the problem’s emanated from a supplier or an ‘outsourcer’, work with them on their systems which inter-face with yours to ensure consistency of quality. If it’s not working out, look elsewhere, you have ownership of your brand. You can’t delegate and lose responsibility.
  1. Note the learning points and find where your system broke down and take remedial action. Is it a blip or something more profound? Get to the root cause. Try not to blame; just identify the improvement needed to your system whether that be your training, your review system etc. 
  1. Review. Follow up with the Customer by phone call, short questionnaire etc. 
  1. Establish a ‘system’ – a consistent way of dealing with complaints with your team. Train it in, embed it, review it, improve it, train it in, embed it, review and so on with your improvement cycle.

Of course, if you have great systems throughout your business they will often prevent this happening in the first place 🙂  And If you’re thinking you haven’t the time or money to make that investment, it’s worth bearing in mind that prevention costs are said to be 80% cheaper than failure costs.

Do two things: 

1st – Review any complaints you’ve had in the last month/six months (depending on the number!) and ring your Customers to see how you handled them and how you could have done better.

2nd – If you haven’t got a system for dealing with complaints why not adopt this or use it as a base to develop your own?

And finally, if this Simple System has whetted your appetite then join us at our two day Systems4Scale Bootcamp where you’ll start to create more systems for your business. 

Click here to see our brochure

Upcoming Dates: June 13th & 14th and 5th & 6th September 

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