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In business, problems always arise.
Things malfunction, customers get frustrated, or miscommunication causes delays. However annoying, big problems are still a gateway for better interaction. Consider this example from Toyota:
The year was 2013, and Webin Manzana noticed the dashboard of his 2008 Camry was melting due to the sweltering weather in the Philippines. Because the warranty on his vehicle had long since lapsed, Toyota Motors Philippines refused to get involved.
Manzana, frustrated with the inherent defect in the dashboard material, decided to fax a letter directly to the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. To his shock and delight, the next day he received a call from Toyota Motors Philippines, arranging to pick up the Camry and replace the dashboard immediately.
3 Ways to Resolve Sticky Situations
When handled poorly, customer complaints can deal a heavy blow to your business.
Here are three ways to resolve sticky situations while improving relationships with your clients.
1. Respond Quickly and Calmly
Whether you respond through e-mail or in a more personal way, time is essential in handling complaints.
Even if you can’t immediately fix a problem, remember that the thing your customer wants most is an acknowledgment of the issue and an affirmation of the frustration they feel. Listening patiently can diffuse many situations, especially if you actively sympathize and ask clarifying questions.
Put out fires quickly, and remain calm by reminding yourself the customer is not necessarily upset with you, but with the situation.
2. Tell the Customer How You Plan to Address the Problem (in detail with a specific time frame)
Once you understand why the customer is upset, you can begin to work on solutions.
If customer oversight was the only issue, a specific reparation (like partial refunds, replacements, or credits on future orders) might quickly mend the hard feelings. If you want to go a step farther, consider offering the customer not only a full refund or replacement but also a bonus item. If you are replacing a T-shirt, could you send them a second T-shirt to give away to a friend?
Every day, brand trust diminishes because of negative customer service experiences. Therefore, the psychology of offering a resolution cannot be understated.
In some situations, it may be best to ask the customer what he feels should be done to best resolve the issue. This allows a person to feel they have won (or that they were correct), and that your organization is willing to go the extra mile to make things right.
3. Keep Working to Ensure the Customer is Satisfied
After a problem is resolved, what steps will you take to follow up on your client again?
Can you call a week later, or send a follow-up e-mail after three days? Circling back gives you the chance to find out if you handled the issue thoroughly, whether a solution was effective, or if the customer had other questions.
Most people will be impressed that you take this extra step to solicit their opinion or ensure their satisfaction.
A Silver Lining
Though handling complaints can be tough, over time, it gives you greater insight into your products, your services, or into the minds of your clients.
Effective complaint management not only resolves problems, but it can transform people into advocates for your brand and sources for future referrals.