5 Tips to Help Turn Customer Complaints Into Positives

Posted on 12/23/14 10:56 AM by Ashley Wood

An unhappy parent or customer is the last thing you or your staff wants to deal with. You're working hard to provide the best service possible but, as in any service-based industry, complaints are inevitable. They key is to look at them as learning experiences rather than a bad reflection on your organization. Every complaint is an opportunity to correct an issue and improve your service.

Discover 5 tips to help turn customer complaints into positives:

Customer Service Success

As per an Oracle customer experience impact report, 89% of consumers will switch to a competitor after an instance of poor customer service and 13% of dissatisfied consumers will tell more than 20 other people about their negative experience. This means that the way you handle a complaint will have a direct bearing on how that scenario will affect your business long-term. If handled properly, it can end up being a positive experience for you and your client.

Address complaints from all sources

The more channels you provide your clients to give their feedback, the better overall impression you'll get of their ongoing experience. Whether it's in person, via a direct email exchange with a client or through a publicly available rating and review system (like on your organization's Facebook page), when parents have an issue with any aspect of your service, you'll hear about it quickly, before word of mouth distorts it.

What’s important is that you check all these sources so that no complaints or grievances are left unanswered. The faster the response time, the higher the chance your empathy will be heard and accepted with an open mind. Everyone makes mistakes, but it's only through swift and honest action that they may be forgiven by customers who are paying for activities or classes. This means checking your voicemail, e-mail and social media accounts regularly and not floating out some generic response when the time comes.

Always respond

No matter how small or insignificant you think a complaint is, always respond. In fact, it doesn't matter how pressing or not the problem feels to anyone in your organization - it was important enough for a customer to bring it up. Therefore, if you hear about it, a response is the only acceptable follow-up. The customer might not always be right, per say, but they are always worthy of your attention, especially if they feel they've had a negative experience.

Most of the time, clients simply want their feelings heard and for you to acknowledge them. This type of validation, while potentially an annoyance at the outset, goes a long way to solidifying the emotional health of your user base. Ignoring a complaint will only make whomever filed it more angry or disgruntled, building up negative feelings towards your club that will almost surely boil over in the end. Moral of the story? Just like a doctor, never leave an open wound untreated.

Take Action, Don't Just Apologize

This may seem like an obvious statement, but saying you're sorry won't solve the problem at the heart of someone's complaint. You must act upon those words and actually do something about the situation. It's important that clients don't simply feel your empathy but see tangible results as well. Knowing that their time and energy in making the complaint in the first place was well-spent will make your organization seem more caring and less robotic overall.

So how does one respond well to a complaint? A good first step would be to come up with an action plan and let your client(s) know what it is. For example, let them know that you’ve revised the training process or that you’ve created a new rule or regulation. They'll see you're taking the complaint seriously and appreciate the gesture.

Train Your Staff to Handle Complaints

Just because you have a good handle on what makes great customer service doesn't mean that the rest of your staff does as well. Anyone that you hire is a reflection of your brand and business at all times, so it's crucial that you not only communicate your core customer success values to them in a clear manner but also hire individuals who are open to learning that process and growing the organization over time.

To that end, let your staff know if you’ve handled a complaint and explain how you’ve dealt with it. Make sure to write down every incident where a client or parent has complained and the method that was used in the response. Pick 10 of these incidents and create a worksheet for your next staff meeting. Go through each incident and have a discussion about how it was handled and if/how the process can be improved.

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Follow Up After The Fact

You want your clients to feel like their complaint was taken to heart and inspired lasting change. You also want them to feel comfortable coming forward with any other issues they may have down the road. A great way to accomplish this is to follow up with them a few days later. Thank them again for informing you of the issue and let them know how you resolved it. Make it clear that they were instrumental in making sure a problem was fixed.

Complaints are inevitable; how you handle these complaints is what your client will remember. A good customer service experience will create a stronger relationship while a negative one may result in a lost customer and even a loss of potential customers in the future. Let your clients know you value their business and that you take their feedback (no matter how negative) seriously. Make sure you and your staff are on the same page when it comes to customer service.

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