Customer complaints are generally difficult for small businesses to handle. Where the staff is small and there is a lot of direct personal contact with the customer, any customer complaint tends to be taken personally and causes frustration and disappointment for the staff. So what is the way out?

The crucial first step to handling customer complaints effectively is to admit and acknowledge the reaction of disappointment or failure that the complaints produce in you. This will allow you to address the complaint objectively without being defensive or feeling hurt.

Ensuring customer satisfaction is a guaranteed means to cultivate and maintain loyal and returning customers, so you have to take care that your customers feel and believe that you are very serious and attentive about their complaints.

If you can make them feel that you respect their problems irregardless of the nature of the specific complaint, you can by extension make a statement about your respect and concern for them as individual human beings.

By building your personal relation with them when thy complain, you stand to ensure that they return to do business with you and have a high opinion of you rather than severing links with you or giving you a hard time.

Here are 10 tips to deal with customer complaints

  1. Allow the customer to have their say and blow off steam. Show interest and listen attentively to them, no matter what.
  1. Apologize clearly for the situation and express regret for any inconvenience caused. You do not need to admit that your organization or anyone from its staff is wrong, but do apologize.
  1. Use active listening and repeat to the customer the complaint that they just made. This way you ensure that the customer understands the fact that you have understood their complaint.
  1. Get the facts straightened out by questioning courteously but effectively. This ensures that you get to the heart of the customer’s problem, and there is no misunderstanding anywhere. Often, the stated problem could have different strands or issues. Make sure that you identify and grasp the most important aspects.
  1. Always maintain an open and friendly tone and manner, and never lose your composure especially if the customer is heatedly angry.
  1. Do not enter into any argument with the customer and do not become defensive. In a service-department this is one of the hardest things to master, but is essential for people who receive the complaints.
  1. Try to fathom exactly how the customer wants his or her complaint to be dealt with and also what they expect from you next: do they want their money refunded, do they want an exchange, or do they want a cut in price, etc.
  1. Be very clear about your position and your options: explain to the customer precisely what can be done and what can’t be done by you.
  1. Do not ever impose upon the customer your own solution without paying any heed to their demands. Try and reach a solution with and for the customer, something which they find acceptable.
  1. Sum up the situation, both the problem and your offered solution, and verify that customer understands and agrees to the solution. Try and ensure that the customer finds the solution apt and helpful.