In a world surrounded by retail, keeping your customers happy and your competition at bay is essential for your survival. Retail sales in 2017 reached a new high of $5.7 trillion. Yet, big retailers lose an astonishing amount of sales due to preventable poor customer relations. In fact, subpar customer service is estimated to account for a loss of $83 billion in revenue each year in the U.S. Simply put, people want to be valued. Feeling undervalued is the most common reason for the loss of a customer’s patronage. So let’s take at some of the most common reasons we hear customers gripe and, more importantly, how to respond to customer complaints.
The Facts Behind Customer Complaints
First, let’s briefly discuss the value of the complaint. They’re not always easy to handle. The “screamers” can be condescending, rude and sometimes just downright mean. But most people who complain want to be heard. And they will be reasonable about it, more often than not. So listen to them.
Use the customer complaint as an opportunity to make a strong relationship. The best retailers always approach an interaction with an irritated customer as an opportunity to not only mend the problem but to actually turn it into a positive situation. If done right, you could make someone a lifelong customer and a brand ambassador.
Additionally, only 4% of dissatisfied customers will actually complain. These customers are unlikely to return (91% won’t) and very likely to tell a handful of their friends about the experience (13% will tell at least 15 friends). This can be quietly catastrophic for a business, especially if you’re located in a smaller market. Plus, those who do complain are more likely to spend more in your retail store.
So it’s important to take complaints seriously! And rather than simply be reactive in each situation, be proactive with training and protocol for dealing with an unhappy client.
5 Steps on How to Respond to Customer Complaints
1) Listen and Find a Way to Understand Your Customer
Find out why the customer wants to be heard. They most likely feel like they haven’t been fairly treated in your retail space. After listening to what they have to say, ask questions that give you more context and understanding:
- Has this happened before?
- Have you spoken to anyone else about this?
- How could the situation have been handled better?
2) Apologize, Apologize, Apologize
It’s just so basic but so many people hate doing it. If you’re in the retail business, learn to do it. And learn it well. It’s probably the most valuable way to handle a customer complaint and can be done in under five seconds. In fact, customers are more likely to forgive a poor experience with an apology than with any type of compensation. Follow the apology with a promise to make sure that same event doesn’t occur again.
3) Propose a Solution
Have a plan in place for handling any issue that may arise. Make it easy for your customer service team to handle the problem immediately and internally. People get frustrated having to jump through hoops in order to solve a problem that they didn’t create. In addition, ask them exactly what should be improved and how they would like the situation rectified.
4) Contact the Customer for a Follow-up
Send a phone survey, follow-up email or phone call to show that you care that the problem has been fully resolved. As we discussed earlier, people take their business elsewhere most often because they don’t feel valued. Exceed their expectations so they can put the past experience out of their minds.
5) Share with Your Employees
Use the interaction as a learning experience for yourself and your whole staff. Talk about ways that the situation could have been avoided and if it was handled correctly. It’s a good opportunity to show you value your staff’s opinions as well.
Solving Customer Complaints with KORONA
Your retail POS system can help you avoid complaints and keep your customers happy. With integrated loyalty programs, you can keep a detailed customer database so that you know what issues have been handled in the past. It’s a great way for you to keep track of everything, and, with discounts and coupons, your customers to feel valued and appreciated.