How to Handle Customer Complaints in just ‘6 Easy Steps’

Thats right, there are just 6 Steps to Follow When Handling Customer Complaints: 



Based on the ‘HEARD’ technique:

H – Heard
E – Empathise
A – Ask
R – Respond
D – Deliver

with one extra

G – Give Something Extra

1. Hear
what you customer has to say. Let them describe the problem or reason for their emotional distress. Do not interrupt or attempt to cut them off. Give them the opportunity to express their feelings about the situation.
Remember: It’s not personal, it’s about the business, so do not take what the customer is saying personally.

2. Empathise
with their situation. It’s very calming to someone who is upset to hear the words “I appreciate” or “I respect.” By the same token, it’s very irritating to hear “I understand.” How can one really understand if they are not in the situation?
Train your employees to stay away from using trigger phrases such as “company policy” or “it’s a computer problem” or “we can’t do that.”
Customers don’t want excuses – they want a solution to their problem!
Train your team to use appropriate phrases that help diffuse the emotion rather than escalate it – all delivered with a very calm voice.

3. Ask
questions to determine the exact reason why the customer is upset.
Use the line “So I can understand your issue better can I ask you a few questions?”
Request the basic details so that you can conduct some research; customers name/address, when the job was conducted, what was the details of the job, what the issue is with the job.
Write notes accordingly using the ‘Customer Complaint Action Log’ (copy below).
Remember: Never admit fault in any way. You need to first gather the facts before deciding on the right remedy.

4. Respond
with a solution to the problem. Research by T.A.R.P. (Technical Assistance Research Program) has shown that 90 percent of customers with a problem will continue to do business with the company if they feel the person handling their complaint is genuinely concerned with resolving the situation.
In hearing the information from the customer you may wish to speak with the tradesman who attended the job to understand more, or review the paperwork. In this instance (which will be the majority of the time), the Customer Service person would inform the customer of their intentions and provide a specific time frame in which they will return their call (preferably within hours, same day. At worst, within 24hours).

Alternatively, you may know the job at hand, or the conflict could be one that you often encounter. This being the case you should have ‘scripts’ and possible solutions written and understood by all the staff, so that you can empower your team to respond to the customer immediately to take corrective action. Each team member needs to understand their level of authority to provide the solutions.

5. Deliver
on the promise made to the customer. Make sure there is a clear understanding with the customer as to what will happen and when it will happen. Restate these two items in very simple terms.

Once you have ‘HEARD’ your customer, it’s time for the final step –

6. Give something Extra
If you want to truly set yourself apart from your competition, go the extra mile and call the customer after the problem has been corrected. Ask if they are happy with the solution. Ask if there is anything else you can do for them right now. Let your customer know that you care!

People are just people. And it is our emotions that make us unique. Have you trained your customer contact people on how to understand your customers and their needs? Do your customer contact people understand that your customers are not all the same – and neither are their needs? Do your customer contact people understand the bottom-line value of a satisfied customer?
Make sure your customers are being ‘HEARD’ because if they are not being heard by you, they may just go find someone who will listen!

Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is it’s customers. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy your customers, they not only help us grow by continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates.

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.