If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely to get a customer complaint at some point (if you haven’t already). Your natural reaction might be to get defensive, which is understandable. However, it’s important to manage and resolve any complaints quickly to avoid negative word-of-mouth, as this could lose you repeat business as well as potential customers.
Why customer complaints aren’t all bad
The most successful companies are customer centric. They listen to their customers, take action to meet their needs and use all feedback – positive or negative – to improve their service or product and build their reputation.
If one customer complains, there might be another one out there who has experienced the same issue, but just hasn’t had the time or energy to speak up. Think about it like this – when you resolve a customer complaint, you’re not helping just one person, but many!
What’s the handling procedure for customer complaints?
The way that you handle complaints is something that your customers will definitely remember. Your response time, tone of voice and the language that you use are all key in making your customers feel confident that they’re valued and are being taken seriously. So, it’s important to have a procedure in place that all staff can follow.
1. Be polite
Firstly, you should respond to complaints as quickly as possible, within a week is standard. When you do talk to them, thank them for taking time out of their day to share their feedback.
2. Get the details
So that you understand exactly what the problem is, ask the customer for as much detail about the issue as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of all complaints with a basic spreadsheet – this will help you to spot any trends.
3. Listen carefully
Acknowledge the customer’s complaint, apologise if appropriate and ask them how they’d like the problem to be solved. This could be through something like a refund, repair or replacement product.
4. Confirm the solution
To avoid any misunderstandings further down the line, confirm the solution agreed upon, preferably in writing or email. If you have a complaints procedure in place, you can also send this to the customer for their reference.
5. Go further
If appropriate, you could offer the customer a goodwill gesture, such as a discount.
6. Follow up
If there are any delays with resolving their issue, make sure to let the customer know! After the issue is solved, contact the customer to see if they’re happy. If they leave a positive review, then you can easily share it with the world using our social media sharing feature.
You could also reassure the customer that their feedback is taken seriously, by letting them know what you’re doing to avoid the problem in the future. It’s also a good idea to ask them how satisfied they were with the customer service, as this will help you to refine and improve your complaints procedure.
Sometimes, a disappointed homeowner will withhold payment whilst you deal with their complaint. With our Protected Payments service, powered by ShieldPay, the homeowner pays the cost of the work into a secure vault before the job is started. The money is then released once both parties are happy with the work, and if not, Shieldpay’s legally trained team can help mediate to a fair outcome. Find out more about Protected Payments in our Homeowner FAQs.