It's unavoidable, human beings will always make mistakes. Businesses are managed by human beings. Logically, all businesses will therefore make mistakes in some form or another.
How you go about addressing those mistakes is what will set you apart from others? Your business coach will invariably say that you should take care of every complaint that you come across in a professional and effective manner. Above everything else, don't ever ignore complaints!
When you receive a complaint, try and turn it into an opportunity.
In other words, do not look at it in a negative light, but look at it as a chance to improve, a way to better your service and also as a way to teach yourself or your staff about the finer aspects of complaint resolution, as preached by your business coach.
Nobody likes to hear a complaint, or to be accused of doing something wrong, it's just part of human nature. Human nature may also dictate that we should be defensive, but this is rarely the best approach to take.
Get to the bottom of the complaint immediately. Now it is certainly true that some people are perpetual complainers, who refuse to be happy and will seemingly complain about everything. These people are, however, in the minority and the people who take the time to complain generally have a valid case.
Executive management coaching teaches us that we should go through a five step procedure when we receive a complaint. If you follow this procedure to the letter, you will invariably solve the dispute and stand a good chance of retaining the person who has made the complaint in the first place as an ongoing client.
To start off with, always make sure that you understand the problem. Sit down and listen to what the person is saying.
Secondly, make sure that you acknowledge them. It is not enough to just nod your head (which could be an invisible action if you are talking to somebody on the phone!). You should repeat in detail to them that you understand what has happened, acknowledging that they are complaining to you.
Thirdly, apologize and mean it. Understand that someone who's complaining is burning up emotional energy and you really should acknowledge this promptly.
Once you clearly understand the problem, having listened carefully, acknowledged the problem and initially apologized, then you should take action immediately. Your business coach will tell you that you need to find out what will satisfy them - and that this will vary. For example, one person might want a refund, whilst another person might be looking to upgrade to a better model for higher service. It is best to offer them choices, rather than being narrow in your offer of resolution. Whenever you can, you should go above and beyond what the complainer might expect. Do not opt for the minimum. It is always better in the long term to offer an additional discount, or some kind of free gift to try and smooth the muddied waters.
Finally, when you have completed the first four steps of listening, acknowledging, apologizing and acting, you need to make sure that you follow up. Good business coach advice will prompt you to send a letter of apology, but always schedule a phone call or e-mail at a set date and time in the future to make sure that you have solved the problem.
If in doubt, consult your business coach to help you set up a complaint resolution procedure for your organization. At the very least, you should ensure that the five step process is followed by everyone who deals with any of your clients during their daily working schedule. It is in the best interests of your entire organization to follow executive coach advice and make sure that customer relationship management is top-notch.
Alan Gillies is the Managing Director of the L2L Group, specialising in supplying Executive Coaching, Training and Consultancy Services to Businesses around the World. Want to find out more about these comprehensive business building success strategies? Get Alan's phenomenal FREE Business Pack.