The focus of all modern management thinking and strategic business practices must be the customers. Keep customers happy, and your sales will continue to soar—neglect them or take them for granted, and your bottom line will suffer accordingly.
When responding to a customer who has a legitimate complaint, keep these six rules firmly in mind for the best possible outcome:
#1: Listen with understanding and sympathy to diffuse anger and demonstrate your concern. Tell the customer something such as, “I am sorry you have been inconvenienced. Tell me what happened so I can help you.” It is vital to show a sincere interest and willingness to help. The customer’s first impression of you is all important in gaining cooperation.
#2: Never, ever blame or make excuses—no matter what or who caused the problem. Instead, take full responsibility and the initiative to do whatever you can to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
#3: Paraphrase and record what the customer tells you. Whenever you hear an important point say, “Let me make sure I understand; you were promised delivery on the 10th and you did not receive the product until the 1st of the following month. Is that correct?”
#4: Find out what the customer wants. Does he or she want a refund, credit, discount or replacement? The customer is complaining because he or she has a problem and wants it solved as quickly as possible. Find out what the problem is, so you can work toward resolving it and not toward an unsatisfactory solution.
#5: Propose a solution and gain the customer’s support. When the customer tells you what he or she wants, the solution is usually obvious. State your solution in a positive manner. You might say, for example: “I will be happy to give you a full credit for it or other merchandise. Is that acceptable to you?” If it is acceptable, act promptly.