Techniques for Resolving Customer Complaints

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  • 0:03 Customer Complaints Policy
  • 0:50 Remain Calm & Listen…
  • 1:53 Empathize & Apologize
  • 2:31 Provide a Solution & Follow Up
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll review the five steps in resolving customer complaints. We'll also provide suggestions in each step to maximize customer satisfaction and equip your customer service agents.

Customer Complaints Policy

Ms. Ewing stormed into the cell phone store today to explain that her cell phone stopped working five days after she purchased it. Johnna, a customer service representative, approached Ms. Ewing, welcoming her to the store, and tried to calm her down, only to have Ms. Ewing leaving more upset.

Afterwards, Johnna's boss Alex asked her to take a break so they could review the conversation for coaching purposes. Alex explained to Johnna that she did not follow the company's customer complaints policy (or CCP). The CCP includes suggestions on handling dissatisfied customers:

  • Remain calm
  • Listen attentively
  • Empathize and apologize
  • Provide a solution
  • Follow up

Remain Calm & Listen Attentively

Alex praised Johnna for remaining cool, calm, and collected. Ms. Ewing had a hot temper and rightfully so because she purchased a defective cell phone. It's important to remember the customer is not upset with you directly. They are unhappy about the product or service, and the most effective solution to reduce their anger is to remain calm and not take it personally.

''Have you ever expressed your dissatisfaction with a sales clerk or manager and been interrupted in the middle of your explanation?'' Alex asked. Johnna had never been interrupted in this way, but she recognized that the interruption can be more frustrating than the complaint about the product or service itself.

Therefore, listening attentively without interruption can defuse the situation. Angry customers want to be heard. They have a problem with the product or service, and it's imperative to remain quiet and pay close attention. Alex told Johnna that she interrupted the customer five times during the conversation rather than mentally documenting important points to mention later.

Empathize & Apologize

While listening, positive non-verbal communication such as body posture and facial expressions can show empathy toward the customer's situation. Nodding your head in agreement with a pleasant facial expression is an example of positive non-verbal communication. Smirking, not making eye contact, or looking distracted shows your lack of focus and can make the customer more upset.

After the customer finishes explaining the problem, apologize to the customer. Alex gave Johnna an example: ''Ms, Ewing, I'm sorry you're having this problem, and we can definitely find a resolution today.''

Provide a Solution & Follow Up

After remaining calm, actively listening, empathizing, and apologizing, the next step is to provide a solution by offering a clear solution, a refund, and/or offering an additional service or product for their troubles. Alex explains to Johnna that she had complete authorization to refund Ms. Ewing's money or offer her a new cell phone.

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