Complaint Handling Skill

The art of turning disgruntled customers into satisfied customers

We’ve all encountered them. Who among us hasn’t been one of them? Disgruntled customers. Complaints and reclamations are extremely negatively loaded terms. Yet every complaint is also an opportunity for customer loyalty. A dissatisfied customer who complains is better than a dissatisfied customer who doesn’t complain – and avoids our company. Solving a customer’s problem to their satisfaction builds trust in the long term. A customer complaint can be “turned around” into a positive experience. Successful complaint management is primarily a question of proper communication. We provide background information, tips and techniques on “the art of winning customers’ favor”.

Definition of complaint management: What is it all about?

Complaint management is the systematic handling of customer complaints. The overarching goal of complaint management is to restore a compromised customer relationship. It is a service function of a company’s customer relations management (CRM). Various framework factors play a role here. Complaint management begins with the deployment or hiring of personnel and continues through the customer conversation to “aftercare,” such as the evaluation of complaints. Direct complaint management process: This involves direct contact with the customer. Customers are provided with a complaint channel, the customer’s concerns are discussed in the initial contact, the complaint is processed in detail by the person in charge, and proposals for solutions are made. These tasks primarily concern sales. However, in marketing, negative reviews on Facebook or Google Maps can also make it necessary to consistently deal with complaints. Indirect complaint management process: Complaint management is also part of a company’s quality management. The indirect complaint management process includes, for example, the evaluation of complaints (where do which problems occur and when?), complaint controlling (how efficient and profitable is complaint management?) and the use of complaint information for long-term measures and changes in the company.

Goals of complaint management

  • Restore customer satisfaction
  • Strengthen customer loyalty and retention
  • Ensure service quality and improve it in the long term (learn from weaknesses)
  • Strengthen company image through feedback culture (marketing)
  • Economic factors: regular customers are more favorable than new customers.

It’s all a question of communication

The direct customer conversation is the biggest challenge for many people. How do I prepare for a customer who is already in a negative mood? How do I keep the red trail in mind during the course of the conversation? In direct contact with the customer, it is not necessarily “the customer’s problem” that is decisive, but the right way of dealing with the customer and his problem. It’s all about skillful and clear communication.

What counts in the customer conversation?

In the customer conversation, everything revolves around the way we communicate with the customer. In a face-to-face conversation, our body language (indirect communication) is 55% more important than our voice and speaking technique (direct communication) in determining whether we appear convincing to the customer. In telephone conversations, body language is largely absent. Almost 87% of our impression on the customer is determined by our voice and speaking technique. However, our posture should not be underestimated on the phone either. Sitting up straight and breathing calmly over the diaphragm (abdominal breathing) ensure a positive, open posture, which gives the voice more confidence. Overall, communication skills are among the most important soft skills and outshine technical and product-specific knowledge in complaint discussions.

Reasons for dissatisfied customers

The most common reason for a customer’s dissatisfaction is 68% poor customer service. Customers are dissatisfied when they are not listened to. Communication is not only the solution to complaints, it is also the most common cause of complaints. Companies need to consider strategies to live a positive communication culture to the outside world. Poor customer service is a structural communication problem. Systematic complaint management can help expose and address weaknesses in external communication. But what can an individual sales person do in customer service? One’s own communication skills are always skills that can be trained. How do I come across to other people? How do I behave when talking to other people? What can I change about my body language to make a good first impression on other people. We have created a compact list of the most important tips.

10 golden tips for the complaint interview

The most important recommendation for a conversation with a dissatisfied customer is: We must get to know and understand the customer and his motives.

  1. Perceive customers – I am here for you
  2. Show and develop understanding – really empathize
  3. Friendly attitude
  4. Active listening
  5. Developing a joint solution
  6. Offering a suitable solution
  7. Valuing customers
  8. Communicate at eye level
  9. Take your time
  10. Staying relaxed and calm

Questioning techniques for interviewing customers: How do I find out what the customer wants?

Targeted questions help analyze the customer’s motivations and motives, narrow down problems and find a mutually satisfactory solution. The two main categories for questioning techniques are open and closed questions. In addition, there are many other types of questions that often originate outside the business world. With a little skill, they can be used to excellent effect in customer meetings to obtain valuable feedback. Open question Open-ended questions are used to gather information. The questioner asks his counterpart to become active and to reflect. In this way, the interviewee (customer) can explain his problem in detail and the listener (e.g., sales person) can concentrate on finding a solution. In the case of a complaint, active listening is central to finding out the customer’s motives and motivations. Asking and listening properly also demonstrates interest in the interlocutor’s concerns – and comes across as much more likeable. Open questions are also known as W-questions.

  • “How do you envision a solution?”
  • “What are your wishes?”
  • “What can I personally do for you?”
  • “Who has talked to you so far?”
  • “When did the problem arise?”
  • “What exactly has been bothering you about the product?”
  • “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this aspect to you?”

Closed question Closed-ended questions prompt a “yes” or “no” response. The wording of the question moves you to give a short and clear answer. For example, the goal of a closed question may be to obtain the interlocutor’s agreement on a topic or to ensure that both parties are in agreement. The answer “yes” or “no” also represents closure. It allows a conversation point to be checked off and the next question to be addressed. It’s a good way for the questioner to guide the conversation and make decisions by consensus.

  • “Is this what we want to do?”
  • “Does this meet your expectations?”
  • “Would you be satisfied with this solution?”
  • “Did I understand you correctly that you would agree to …?”
  • “This offer is not an option for you, right?”
  • “Are you okay if we revisit this topic at the end and focus on … now?”
  • “Would you like to start by telling me about the problem from your point of view so I can better assess what I can do for you?”

Training in the use of such questioning techniques makes the complaint conversation a more pleasant experience for both parties.

Learning to regain the customer’s favor

In a face-to-face customer conversation, strategies and techniques for communication and problem solving can help turn an angry customer into a delighted customer. But how do I prepare to talk to the customer? What do I want to find out from the customer? At what point in the conversation is which question appropriate? How do I deal with difficult customers? The complaint management process presents us with many questions that require clever communication. Communication is based on patterns that repeat themselves. For example, customers may be categorized into personality types in order to approach each complaint conversation individually. Our trainers and lecturers know the daily challenges of complaint management and teach such helpful tips and tricks of sales psychology to empathize with customers and use the complaint as a real opportunity for customer retention. Our offer for specialists and executives from companies:

  • Complaint management seminar: together with you, we look at customer typologies, sales psychologies and communication techniques in dealing with customers. You will gain practical knowledge to turn future complaint discussions into success stories.

You are a private person and interested in a sponsored continuing education? Complaint management is a topic in the following courses:

  • Marketing/Sales: Customer complaints are part of the everyday customer-oriented work of marketing and sales personnel. In our advanced training we impart comprehensive and practical knowledge about marketing instruments and sales methods.
  • Office organization: In office work, one is often the first point of contact for customers. Communication on the phone requires thoughtful complaint management. Our training covers this and many other topics that are important for success in the office.

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