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How to Handle Customer Complaints: 5 Best Practices

How to Handle Customer Complaints: 5 Best Practices

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Customer complaints are dissatisfied messages from customers when their expectations are not met regarding a company’s products, services, communication, marketing, or some combination of these.

To handle customer service complaints and give your customers a positive perception of your business or product, resolve their complaints as fast as possible.

Therefore, it is important to know how you can respond to your customers’ complaints to make them happy.

In this blog, we will discuss the common types of customer complaints, methods of handling them, and the benefits of addressing them.

Best Practices to Handle Customer Complaints

What are customer complaints?

Customer complaints refer to the negative feedback that customers give regarding a product, service, or experience they received from a company or brand. These complaints can be submitted through surveys, emails, social media reviews, community forums, or online review sites.

Customer complaints can arise from a variety of issues, such as product defects, bad customer service, billing errors, or any other aspect that does not align with the customer’s expectations.

Types of customer complaints

Below are some typical customer complaints that you might come across in your daily interactions.

Delay complaints

Having to remain on hold on phone calls for extended periods of time may not be practical for customers who are busy. When the wait for assistance exceeds expectations, it can result in dissatisfaction and complaints.

These complaints can also occur in situations involving late product shipments, delayed project deliverables, and other instances where timely service is expected but not delivered.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complaint

  • Analyze call volume patterns and consider implementing callback options to reduce wait times.
  • Update customers on the status of their orders, anticipated delays, and the new expected timelines.
  • Set realistic initial timelines and prioritize tasks and projects based on their importance and urgency.
  • Analyze the causes of delays and address them by streamlining operations, adopting new technologies, or removing bottlenecks.
  • Offer compensation, such as discounts or freebies to help alleviate frustration.

Delivery complaints

Complaints due to delivery problems are common in the e-commerce and logistics industries. Delivery issues can range from damaged goods to packages being lost or stolen. These issues can negatively impact customer satisfaction and the reputation of the business.

How to resolve and prevent these customer complaints

  • Provide customers with accurate delivery estimations and real-time tracking information.
  • Ensure that items to be delivered are packaged securely.
  • Have an efficient return policy that allows customers to send back incorrect items at no extra cost.
  • Apologize to customers and offer refunds for lost items.

Complaints due to miscommunication

Miscommunication can occur for a variety of reasons, including language barriers, unclear instructions, technical problems, or simply a lack of clarity in the customer communication process.

Complaints due to miscommunication can lead to customer dissatisfaction, negative word-of-mouth, and even customer churn.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complaint

  • Actively listen to customers, understand their message, respond appropriately, and archive the conversation for future reference.
  • Invest in regular training for customer service representatives to enhance their communication skills.
  • Implement a contact management system to keep track of customer interactions and history, which can help reduce miscommunication.
  • Use canned responses for common inquiries to provide consistent and accurate information.
  • Offer multilingual support when possible to cater to customers from a diverse marketplace.

Product or service quality complaints

Quality complaints occur when a company’s offerings do not meet customer expectations. Such complaints can result from minor issues such as a delay in service or major concerns like a product defect or a breach of contract.

Handling these complaints effectively helps maintain customer loyalty and a positive brand perception.

How to resolve and prevent these customer complaints

  • Clearly communicate policies, procedures, and what the customer should expect.
  • Identify the root cause of the problem and propose feasible solutions.
  • Analyze complaints to understand where you can improve your products or service.
  • Follow up with the customer after solving their issue to make sure they’re still satisfied.

Complaints about unsupportive agents

Customer complaints about unsupportive agents typically revolve around issues such as lack of empathy, inadequate resolution to problems, rudeness, or insufficient knowledge about the product or service.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complaint

  • Provide comprehensive training to agents to ensure they have the good product knowledge and customer service skills.
  • Conduct regular performance reviews.
  • Promote a culture where customer satisfaction is the goal and reward.

Complaints arising from having to repeat information

Inefficient communication systems often fail to retain or transfer key details across service interactions. Customers are then forced to repeatedly provide the same information whenever they are transferred to another agent.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complaint

  • Implement shared inbox software that centrally stores and provides easy access to customer information. Make sure agents can make notes on conversations before transferring an issue to another agent.

Billing complaints

These complaints arise when customers dispute charges on their bills, feel overcharged, are confused by the billing structure, or encounter errors in the billing process. These are usually caused by a lack of transparency, clerical mistakes, technical issues, or misunderstandings of the pricing model.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complaint

  • Provide clear and detailed explanations of charges.
  • Make sure customers know what to expect before they purchase.
  • Promptly correct any billing errors and offer refunds or credits where appropriate.

Complaints due to a lack of self-service options

Customers sometimes express dissatisfaction when they are unable to find information to help them resolve issues independently. Younger customers, especially, prefer to find answers themselves rather than have to communicate with company representatives.

How to resolve and prevent this customer complain

  • Invest in user-friendly self-service options such as knowledge base software, FAQ pages, or forums.
  • Regularly maintain information on these platforms so customers always find relevant information.

How to handle customer complaints

Regardless of a business’s best efforts, its customers will have complaints at some point in the relationship.
Here are some methods on how to avoid customer complaints and handle them effectively:

  • Pay attention to the customer’s remarks
  • Make inquiries to understand customer complaints better
  • Be apologetic, regardless of the issue
  • Acknowledge the customers’ complaints and appreciate them
  • Provide a solution to address customer complaints

1. Pay attention to the customer’s remarks

The most important thing to do when you want to handle customer complaints is to listen to what your customer has to say. While listening, take notes to help you identify the problematic areas.

Though your customer may perceive their problem one way, your extensive knowledge of your company’s product (or whatever the complaint involves) may give you greater insight into the core problem.

When you listen to your customer, you are more likely to address the customer pain point solve the problem that is affecting the customer. If you do your job well, eventually, you get a happy customer.

Pay attention to the customer’s remarks
Agent paying attention to customer complaints

2. Make inquiries to understand customer complaints better

Listening to your customers’ complaints is the time to learn all the important facts about the matter.

How do you do this effectively? You get permission from your customer to ask some questions. As you ask questions, you get to understand the context of the issue, giving you more detail than you had before.

Questioning helps you get to the root of the complaint. And with that, you figure out a way to resolve the issue as easily as possible.

Make inquiries to better understand
Agent questioning clients for better understanding

3. Be apologetic, regardless of the issue

A study by Forbes reports that 96% of customers are unlikely to return to a business that has disappointed them.

Therefore, whenever you get a complaint from a customer, you need to offer a sincere apology to win back customer trust.

Offering an apology expresses that you did not expect the problem to occur. It also shows that you care about the customer’s issue.

In your apology email, communicate that you are committed to setting things right as fast as possible.

4. Acknowledge the customers’ complaints and appreciate them

Though some customers may react negatively regarding an issue, it is a good idea to authentically thank them for raising the matter with you.

Thanking your customer reveals that you are considering the complaint seriously.

Besides thanking them, ensure you recognize how significantly the problem may be affecting the customer. Doing this is simple: just ask how much harm has been done.

Your customer will view you as genuinely concerned.

5. Provide a solution

Finally, after listening, asking questions, and acknowledging the issue, you should find a solution.

Providing a solution is the final step in handling a customer complaint. The solution should address the issue reasonably and result in a happy customer.

Provide a solution
Support team discussing solutions

Handling customer complaints by utilizing BoldDesk

Customer complaints are useful to every business. This is because negative feedback helps the business improve on specific shortcomings the moment the issues are rectified.

BoldDesk is a customer support platform for addressing customer complaints in an effective manner.

The following are some of the ways BoldDesk helps handle your customer complaints:

Organize customers’ complaints effectively

BoldDesk provides a help desk ticketing system that converts all incoming support emails into tickets. Customers can respond to their tickets through email.

By managing customer data from a central location, your staff can access the most recent information. With this, you can eliminate the need to track multiple responses and threads.

You can also categorize tickets with tags and private notes based on customer requirements.

By applying advanced filter rules to tickets, you can organize the tickets as needed and assign them to the appropriate support agent.

Send quick responses

Netomi reports that for 61% of consumers, an outstanding customer support experience involves a short time to resolution.

By using canned responses, you can send quick responses to common customer complaints without any mistakes.

Perfection in a reply is important because it increases customers’ confidence in your support team.

By eliminating chances for mistakes to be introduced, you can more accurately and effectively resolve customer complaints.

BoldDesk also lets you set priority levels for tickets so that critical issues can receive replies first.

Send reminders regarding unsolved complaints

A service-level agreement (SLA) sets response and resolution due dates based on business hours.

Most businesses have customers in various time zones. BoldDesk allows you to create business hours and holiday lists to fit your team’s schedule.

An SLA helps set ideal response times and send reminders about assigned issues and unsolved complaints via email.

Reminders help prevent customer complaints from remaining unassigned or unaddressed for a long time.

Sending a reminder allows agents to focus on resolving customer issues and speeds up the resolution process.

Analyze the customer’s complaints

BoldDesk’s reporting and analytics dashboards make managing a support team easier. For instance, a ticket conversation report shows messages updated by customers and agents across all communication channels in one place.

By examining the agents’ responses to customers, you can identify agents who need more training and add a tag or private note inline for follow-up.

Accordingly, these reports help support managers in monitoring agent performance and identifying areas that need improving to handle customer complaints better.

Additionally, the customer satisfaction (CSAT) report provides CSAT scores, survey response rates, and customer feedback and ratings.

Using filters, you can categorize CSAT data by agent, category, contact, and contact group. This helps identify customers’ issues and agents that may need additional help.

Reduces the resolution time of customer complaints

BoldDesk auto-assignment rules direct incoming tickets to the appropriate agents in the organization based on ticket attributes.

Assigning tickets to the correct team based on the conditions configured avoids unnecessary redirecting between teams.

By eliminating manual effort at each step of the ticket life cycle, agents can focus on resolving customer issues.

Consequently, this helps support agents resolve issues on time and thereby reduces ticket resolution times.

Address customer complaints for satisfaction and retention

Handling customer complaints is a primary function of a company’s support team, and handling them effectively can lead your company to growth. We build products that you can customize according to your present and future needs.

Without a doubt, BoldDesk can help you solve your customers’ complaints easily. Contact us to arrange a live demo to experience the enhanced capabilities BoldDesk can offer your support team. Or, sign up for a  15-day free trial with instant access today.

What strategies do you use to manage customer complaints?

Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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