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How to deal with unhappy customers

No matter how carefully you operate, you will always have unhappy customers. Here are 10 ways to deal with them.
By Jackie Sierda |

Companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to avert mistakes. Customer complaints, however, are inevitable and handling such problems well is not easy.

One misstep and you could lose your client forever; handled properly, you could turn an irate customer into a loyal one for a lifetime. According to a study by the US-based Technical Assistance Research programs Institute (TARP), the average customer with an unresolved complaint will tell nine to 10 people, while 13 percent will tell more than 20 people.

On the other hand, up to 70 percent of customers will return to your business if the complaint is resolved and as mush as 95 percent if the problem is addressed quickly.

Here are a few simple suggestions on  how to deal with customer complaints:


1.    Listen

Most customer service experts agree that listening is the first step in successfully resolving a complaint. Find out what the customer is upset about. Remegio Alina, senior customer management officer of Philippine airlines (PAL), says you have to out yourself in the client’s shoes and understand the situation from his or her point of view.


2.    Acknowledge

Empower your employees to deal with potential problems, Avoid referring customers to other departments, blaming others or making excuses. Assure customers that your organization will look into their complaints.

3.    Investigate

Not all complaints are as evident as a burnt steak or a missing button in a blouse, for instance. If the situation needs more time or further research before being addressed, explain this to your clients, then talk to everyone involved to get a complete picture.

4.    Act

If there was indeed a mistake, apologize to customers and offer a solution as swiftly as you can. “Try to satisfy the customer to the best of your abilities, but it also has to be within the bounds of company policy,” says PAL’s Alina. Negotiate with clients on how best to resolve the problem in a way that’s fair for both parties.

5.    Compensate

Make it up to the customer by way of small gifts or discounts. In the case of PAL, Alina says, they usually give upgrades or travel vouchers, but never cash.


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