As we head towards Christmas, it’s important for companies to consider their complaints procedures and monitor for negative online reviews and comments, with customer complaints being at their highest in January.
It’s not just complaints to retail companies about their Christmas gifts either; complaints to energy companies are notoriously high in January and have increased each year.
Whilst there are things you can do to try and limit the number of complaints, the nature of the market means that you’re likely going to have to deal with some complaints in January regardless. It’s important therefore that your company knows how to respond in the right way, to prevent an online complaint escalating and potentially damaging your reputation.
Failure to handle a customer complaint will probably result in losing them for good; according to research, 89% will start doing business with your competitors following a bad customer service experience and 50% only give one week for a response before making that decision.
Many companies fail to respond to complaints on Twitter, but that could be a mistake. You should look to respond to every complaint as quickly as possible.
The worst thing you could do to a customer complaint – aside from not responding – is to anger the customer further by treating them with contempt. Accept where there may have been errors from your company which allowed the customer to have a dissatisfaction. Try not to pick an argument or try to prove the client wrong.
Don’t give a standardised, impersonal response as this will only fuel the customer’s frustration. You should look to resolve the issue, and apologise for any mistakes that your company may have made. The more personal you can be with the customer, the more respect you’ll show them and the more they’ll understand the point you’re making; empathise with their point of view.
Whilst you should look to be personal to every customer, it’s even more important to remain professional. Don’t mention any flaws in your company and retain your company’s credibility when responding to a negative review. Ensure that you respond in a timely manner and that your service is approachable and trustworthy.
It’s easy to try and post fake reviews about your company, or remove negative ones to make your online profile look better than it is. You’d be surprised by how many companies try to take this approach, but it doesn’t work. It is more obvious than you think when a company has done this, and they’re almost always caught. This looks even worse than a bad reputation, and shows a lack of transparency and honesty from your company – that won’t solve any long-standing issues or improve your company’s reputation.
Often, negative reviews can be more important than positive ones. Any issues which are brought up by customers will be highlighted to your business, and constructive criticism allows your company to improve. You can learn which departments your company is falling down on, and look to improve.
Try to move the issue offline
If your company has a clear, simple and speedy complaint process, it will minimise the negative discussion about your company online. You should look to resolve their problem privately for a number of reasons, including damage limitation. Playing out the complaint in the public domain could result in further problems for your company.