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Running a business

8 Tips for Turning Customer Complaints into Opportunities

Every small business has to deal with customer complaints at some point. Successful customer engagement helps you turn those complaints into opportunities to solidify relationships with your customers and learn ways to improve your customers' experiences. These eight tips help you handle consumer complaints in a healthy, productive way that fosters long-term associations.

1. How to Handle Customer Complaints 

Having a customer complaints procedure in place at your business can help you manage negative comments and reviews. It provides a process for you and your employees to follow when stressful situations arise. This procedure can help you with your business's customer relationship management solutions. Consider using the below tips to help you create a process that can turn negative customer experiences into positive ones. 

2. Make it Accessible for Customers to Complain 

As much as a customer complaint seems like a negative thing, they offer your business the opportunity to improve its products or services. Therefore, it's essential to make sure that customers can easily discuss their experience at your business with someone internal.  

Having accessible employees, an apparent complaint or suggestion box in-store, or a page on your website will allow customers to offer their opinion quickly. If you don't make it accessible on your site or in-store, customers may go to other review sites or forums and leave an even more scathing review for being unable to talk to someone internally. 

3. Respond to the Customer’s Emotion

Customers who complain often express deeply felt emotions. The customer may feel betrayed by promises your business has made or misled by communications with your sales staff. Take the time to let the customer express these emotions before fixing the problem. 

Sometimes, the real problem has nothing to do with your products or services, but how your employees made the customer feel. By hearing the customer out, you ensure customers perceive you as an ally. You also learn about potentially significant problems that need addressing in your customer-facing operations, whether by instituting new procedures or establishing further training for employees.

4. Stay Focused on Finding Solutions

A knee-jerk response to customer service complaints might be to downplay their experience or cause an emotional response within yourself. Whether these emotions are anger or annoyance, being unable to control your response could cause more harm than good. 

Even when dealing with demanding customers, it's important to stay level-headed and focused on finding a solution versus getting riled up at what was said. The more thought you put towards a solution and the more focused you are on the outcome, the less likely you will be to match those intense emotions of the customer. By handling the situation in this manner, you are more likely to create a positive experience for the customer, the business, and yourself. 

5. Follow Up on All Complaints

You might be tempted to wash your hands of a customer after you receive a particularly painful complaint, but this serves as a vital moment in your relationship. Follow up with customers to make sure they're happy with how your business handles their complaints, and ask for feedback on how you can improve your products and customer service. 

Turning toward a dissatisfied customer instead of away can help salvage any negative reviews the customer might want to spread on social media, and it assists you in making needed improvements to avoid receiving the same complaint in the future.

6. Take Customer Feedback On-Board for Improvements

Don't just find a solution for your customer and call it a day. Instead, take what they said and apply it to your customer management process. All negative customer feedback can be a learning experience. As Bill Gates said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Taking steps toward turning consumer complaints into opportunities helps your business create happy customers and build brand loyalty.

For that reason, after every interaction with customer service complaints, you should take note of the situation. Write down the customer's experience, how you found a solution, and what that solution was. Then, once complete, integrate that feedback into your customer service to ensure the next time it happens, you and your employees know how to remedy the situation right away. 

7. Share Complaints with Team Members

Part of your customer complaints procedure should be focused on sharing the experience with your team members and employees. For that reason, inform all team members of common complaints and how they were handled after the fact to ensure customer satisfaction. 

The more understanding and training your employees have in dealing with stressful customer situations, the more likely they will respond appropriately and helpfully. Then, should the same problem or complaint arise again, they will know how to handle it and turn it into a positive outcome. 

8. Create Proactive Workflow for Handling Customer Complaints

Take the proactive steps of listening, responding, and fixing the problem when handling customer complaints, but think about how your customer service might improve if you create workflow procedures employees must follow each time a customer complains. Start by rewarding customer-facing employees for reporting complaints, something they might otherwise have the temptation to hide or downplay. Record the protests, and make sure the people in a position to fix them maintain awareness going forward. 

Follow up with all dissatisfied customers, letting them know about your changes and ensuring they're happy with your solution to their particular complaints. Follow up again by providing these customers with unique perks, such as discount codes for future purchases. This lets you track those customers to see if you keep them in your sales loop.

This type of proactive system works well at Marriott, where studies show 94% of guests return to the hotel for future stays when something bad happened during their previous visits, but Marriott fixed it. The number of guests intending to return in this circumstance was even higher than the 89% who reported they had a good stay. Therefore, a proactive workflow can help turn a complaining customer into a happy and loyal customer. 

By creating a customer complaints procedure using the tips above, you can improve your customer management process overall. But when it comes to the management of your business finances, why not turn to professional accounting software. With QuickBooks Online, you can easily track your revenue and expenses, keep tabs on client accounts, and manage your cash flow all in one place. Start your free trial today! 

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