Nine Ways you Can Easily Deal with Customer Complaints
Your salon will occasionally encounter customer complaints, regardless of how good your salon, services and staff are deemed to be. Here, business management trainer Deiric McCann explains how to deal with complaints.
Calming an angry customer and resolving a complaint to their satisfaction doesn’t mean sacrificing your self-respect. Apply the following guidelines and you’ll resolve more problems more easily and hopefully turn a complaint into a more positive experience for the customer.
1. It’s your problem, but don’t take it personally
It may not be your fault, but it’s still your problem. Approach all angry customers with this attitude. Even if it is your fault, don’t take the complaint personally. Customers complain because they want you to address a perceived shortcoming – not because they don’t like you. Resist the temptation to fight back as even if you win the battle you will lose the war and the customer.
To address the customer’s problem you’ll need to know exactly what it is. As with all other endeavours, listening is a key skill. Shut up and listen carefully. Besides giving you some insight into the reason for the customer’s distress, it also helps to exercise some of the initial anger the customer is feeling.
3. Don’t interrupt
Let the complainant express themselves – don’t stop them mid-flow. Let them vent their anger as it will be easier to reason with them afterwards.
4. Calm your complainant and clarify the problem
When your customer has finished, show some empathy – explain that you understand why they are so upset and that you are going to try and sort things out for them. Clarify your understanding of their problem, ask questions and qualify comments. This will calm your client and ensure your suggested solution will address all aspects of the perceived problem. Step into your customer’s shoes. Look at your salon, your products, their problem and your actions from their perspective – and then decide whether or not their complaint is justified.
5. If it’s your fault, say so. If it’s not, don’t
When you fully understand the complaint, decide whether or not your company is at fault. Don’t automatically accept blame before you know that it is warranted. If it is clearly your fault, then admit it early in the process. Accept responsibility, don’t hide and don’t try to pass the buck. Adopt a genuinely humble tone.
6. Solve the problem
Think about how best to solve the customer’s problem. If you need some time to come up with a response, tell them so and commit to getting back to them in a specified timescale and do so. Make sure all of your responses project a clearly concerned but calm manner. Stress that you want the problem to be resolved and project a calm confidence that you are the person to do it. When you have suggested a solution, agree with the customer the steps you will take and the timescale. Assure them that yo will take personal responsibility for seeing the resolution through and do so. Nothing is more important than resolving customer complaints, so attend to them with the utmost urgency. Research shows that it costs at least five times more to recruit new customers than to retain existing ones.
7. Don’t accept abuse
If a complainant steps over that almost invisible line between the reasonable right to complain and outright personal abuse don’t accept it. Calmly explain that you are going to endeavour to address any problems they may have, but that you can only do that if they accord you the courtesy and respect you intend to accord them. If they continue with their abuse, terminate the conversation.
8. Pin down moving targets
If you’re dealing with a problem that seems to grow every time you implement an agreed solution, ask your customer to put their complaint down in writing so that you can better understand and address it. This will help you to focus upon an agreed solution. Also, working things out on paper can sometimes help a complainant to recognise an unreasonable viewpoint.
9. Stop it happening again
Try to prevent angering customers in the future. At the reception let your clients know that it is your policy to resolve any difficulties they might encounter. If a client calls to complain, their stress levels should be a little lower as they will be aware that they will receive good support. Keep in touch – if something’s about to happen that might upset customers let them know before it’s an issue.
When a customer identifies a problem, change what you do to minimise the chance of the problem recurring. Clients who take the time to complain are generally telling you that they want to continue doing business with you, but with some changes. Put a high priority on resolving their difficulties, but don’t ever feel you must sacrifice your own self-esteem to do so.