Responding to complaints.

You already know what to do while a customer complains, so how do you respond? The principles are the same.

  • Be nice.
  • Be considerate.
  • Apologize.
  • (Prepare to) Compensate.
  • Work on resolving the issue.

Those are the exact things you should do will listening to complaints and the exact way you should respond to a written complaint. If you send a letter or an email back, be sure to be nice, consideration, apologize often, offer compensation, and work on resolving the issues. The principles are the same with almost every level of the complaint process.

If lots of people complain about one thing, fix it and publicly announce that you’ve done. Angry customers will be happy that you care, and customers who aren’t angry will be happy that you fix issues when they arise. It’s a win-win. Announce it with a post in your forums, a press release, an announcement on your company web site, an article in your newsletter, or whatever. Just make sure it’s seen by your customers. Once again, when you write these announcement, use the same techniques as when you’re dealing with individual complaints.

Customers will appreciate you taking the time to respond to their complaints. You have a very limited number of shots to make them happy, so make your complaint responses count. Ensure:

  • That you’ve done your research. If you make a comment that isn’t related to them, is incorrect, etc., you’ll look like an idiot who truly doesn’t care about the problem.
  • Do what you say you will. If you promise a customer a $20 credit, ensure it’s added to their account before you click send or seal the envelope. That way, you know it’s done and there won’t be any more complaints down the line.
  • Fix the problem. That’s by far the most important thing. Fix what they’re actually complaining about so A) they don’t get mad and B) other customers don’t get mad. Customers do like free services, but they also like fixed problems.

Tomorrow’s post is the all important, following up on complaints. I’m still accepting post ideas, so please do send them in or comment with your ideas.