Today, entrepreneurs need to understand that consumers have a voice, and a loud one at that. Social media is just one way to vent frustrations, but more aggressive consumers will take their grievances to sites. For this reason, it is important for entrepreneurs to develop a customer-complaint strategy, or as it is known, an “angry customer strategy.” This strategy differs from a crisis-management strategy, which focuses on significant and often unforeseen problems that may threaten the very existence of the company.
Instead, an angry-customer strategy is a guide to tackling customer grievances quickly and effectively through the myriad of venues through which they can propagate. For starters, entrepreneurs need to fully understand and analyze the complaint.
1. Understand the magnitude.
Entrepreneurs should have an good idea of what customers complain about. Thinking about this ahead of time will help you identify the seriousness of a complaint and the course of action needed to correct it.
2. Understand the motive.
What does the customer want? Are they looking for a refund or exchange? Are they looking for an apology or simple to be heard? Understanding the desired outcome will help you craft your response.
3. Understand the impact.
You should approach all complaints with equal attention, but clearly some pose a much greater threat than others. Be certain to identify the greatest threats and prioritize resources appropriately. After you have an understanding of the issue, be prepared to handle the problem.
4. Do not let it linger.
Social media loves news. A problem or issue with your company can spread in a matter of hours, so you need a mechanism that allows you to respond to customer complaints in a timely manner. An auto response to emails is one way, but understand that comments on social media and other ratings companies need to be regularly monitored as well.
5. Seek first to console, then to remedy.
In most cases, complaints are fired off in the heat of the moment (like in the tiresome early hours at the gym). Most customers just want their grievance acknowledged, and with a little compassion and empathy, they can be cajoled from their irritable state.
6. Take the high road.
Some complaints are generated from customers who are chronically dissatisfied, seeking a freebie or have an ulterior motive, such as special-interest groups opposed to your company and products. If this is the case, it is best not to engage in an equally attacking tone, as it only fuel the fire behind the grievance.
7. Ask for cooperation.
When possible, engaging the customer and empowering them to take an active role resolving the problem could not only create a powerful ally, it could provide valuable feedback that could help you better fix the problem.
8. Ask for a positive review.
If you have satisfied the customer’s concerns, do not be afraid to ask them to revise their negative review or ask for a positive one. Keep in mind that the worse they can do is decline, which leaves you no worse off.
Customer complaints these days do not fade away as they once did.
“We wish you all the best for your future customer handling endeavours.”