From gripe to swipe: How to transform complaints into custom

It’s not uncommon for a number of businesses, regardless of their size or nature, to encounter a few customer service horror stories once in a while. No matter how hard a business tries to meet and exceed expectations, mistakes do happen.

Once a complaint or grisly situation has materialised, the most important thing is to rectify it quickly and effectively. By tackling a bad situation in the correct manner, you may even be able to transform complaints into custom. Turning an upset customer into a consumer who is both pleased and impressed is a great way to ensure this particular customer becomes a regular. In fact, if you do a really good job, they may even share their story with friends and family.

Here are a few ways to transform grumbling gripes into lucrative swipes:

Signal your concern

Asking a simple question, such as ‘What happened?’ will signal your initial concern. When listening to an answer, it’s important never to interrupt. Even if you think you have a solution to the problem at hand, it’s essential that you let the customer finish their story first. Keeping your body language open as opposed to defensive is a must. Saying you’re sorry (even though you may not necessarily agree) will change the mood entirely. You can do this by saying ‘I’m sorry there is a problem’ or ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset’.

Ask your customer what needs to be done to rectify the situation

If a solution is unclear, asking the consumer what they think will rectify the situation is certainly one way to come up with an answer that will keep them happy. However, it is important to give an indication of limits, as there will only be so much you can do. Complaints could end up costing your business time and money and it’s important to have the funds in place to deal with such a scenario.

Ensure the consumer is satisfied

Once you’ve come up with a solution to the problem, it’s imperative that you ensure the consumer is satisfied with your answer. Delivering on this solution and then adding something extra, including the likes of a free gift or ‘money off’ a future purchase is a great way to warrant their return.

Treat complaints as opportunities

Most consumers will file a complaint using a central website, a postal address or a phone number. However a complaint is brought up, seek to reply to all of them and turn an unhappy customer into a loyal, or at least satisfied, client. If you turn these criticisms into opportunities, transforming them into custom is easier than you may think.