Customer complaints are the most confronting aspect of retail. It can be hard not to take things personally when someone finds fault with your products, your service, or the way your business operates. But if you can remain calm and if you have a plan in place for how to deal with upset customers, an upset customer can represent an opportunity.
In fact, research suggests that finding a satisfactory solution to a customer complaint can lead to increased loyalty. That’s because customers in need of extra care and personal attention are exposed to the full extent of your customer experience efforts. They get feel like their opinion is important to you and that you are going out of your way to shape your business to their needs.
Learning how to deal with upset customers in retail gives you the chance to change the way your customers feel about you and talk about you. Complaints are just the start of a conversation about how you can better serve your customers.
Customer Complaints Are an Opportunity
Research by the Harvard Business Review found that customers who receive a satisfactory response to a complaint are likely to become brand loyal. Similarly, workplace collaboration specialist Atlassian, found that 97% of people said they would be loyal to a company that listened to their feedback.
So, there is real value to be had from persevering with that upset customer and trying to find a solution to their problem. To begin, the customer already saw something in your business that made them connect with you in the first place. If you can maintain that connection and think of the complaint process as a way of building on it then there’s something to be salvaged from what can be an emotional experience for both of you.
Learning how to deal with upset customers in retail begins with the ability to stay calm in the face of conflict. From there on things get a little easier as there are clear steps you can follow to resolve the situation.
Try the following next time you’re confronted with an unhappy customer:
- Stay calm and listen
- Take responsibility for the problem
- Be clear about how you’ll fix things
- Be equipped to offer a range of solutions
- Offer incentives for future retail experiences
- Follow up with your customer
The key to turning things around with an upset customer is to keep calm and not takes things personally.
Stay Calm and Listen
Customer complaints are an unavoidable fact of retail life. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your customers and accept that “you can’t please everyone”. Rather, it means you should learn to see the complaint as a professional rather than personal issue.
Listen to what your customer has to say. By complaining they are giving you an insight into how your customers feel about your business. It could be that others have experienced the same problem but chosen to deal with it by silently avoiding coming back to shop with you. A complaint is a conversation about your business, even if it can be a heated one, so try and gather all the information you can.
Take Responsibility for the Problem
You don’t have to blindly adopt a philosophy that the customer is always right in order to deal with complaints – there is always a chance you’ll encounter someone you just can’t please. However, you should always take responsibility for the situation and accept that the complaint may come from false expectations or confusion about what your business is offering, if not a direct fault in your products or service. In such cases of communication breakdown, taking the lead and offering to start a whole new conversation can be beneficial.
Be Clear About How You’ll fix things
Giving your customer a clear understanding of what you can do to fix their problem and an accurate idea of how long it will take to fix their problem can help calm matters. If you have to order in a replacement product, get something repaired, or find an alternate solution then let your customer know how long the process will take. And follow through on your promise – when customers get the service they expect they begin to build trust in your business.
Be Equipped to Offer a Range of Solutions
The solutions you can offer your upset customers are limited by the tools you have at your disposal. If you want to be able to accept returns and exchanges on products, then it helps to have the right technology in place to do so without making a mess of your inventory. The same applies if you want to offer a discount or bundle items together to sweeten the conflict solution. The practical realities of your customer service can be built into the same register and inventory processes you use when things are running smoothly. It is well worth investigating digital retail software and hardware that can give you greater power over your stock, and therefore greater flexibility in pleasing an unhappy customer.
Offer Incentives for Future Retail Experiences
Upset customers can need extra value if they are to continue shopping with you. You can demonstrate your commitment to keeping them as regulars by offering them access to the kind of retail incentives you offer only to your most frequent shoppers. You can create personalized customer management solutions that keep track of customer visits and interests through the same digital equipment we mentioned above, and offer a loyalty and rewards programs usually reserved for major outlets.
If a customer feels they get extra value just by choosing your outlet over a rival’s, then you’re well on the way to building a sustainable base.
Follow Up with your Customer
There’s no need for your conversation with an upset customer to end over a single transaction. Stay in contact over social media or personal devices and extend the customer experience out into their wider world. Be warned though, such attention can lose its impact if you don’t personalize your messages. Try to stay focused on products and specials that coincide with your customer’s tastes, or you could find your carefully constructed emails drifting into your customer’s spam folder.
How Upset Retail Customers Can be Converted
All these potential solutions depend on your ability to see customer complaints as a conversation rather than conflict. If you can stay calm and capitalize on the initial connection that captured your customer’s interest in the first place you can turn the situation in your favor.
At talech, we create point of sale solutions that give you the flexibility to run your business the way you know works best with your customers. Our products can be completely personalized to your situation and give you total control over your inventory, staff needs, loyalty programs, and customer information. Sign up for a free demo and we’ll show you how point of sale technology can improve every aspect of your business.