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Handling customer complaints more effectively

/ 01:46 AM September 05, 2016

Have you noticed that on any given day, a number of posts on our Facebook feed would be a friend complaining about a customer service failure?  And that the usual suspects are airlines, telecommunications companies or fast food industries?

One would think that all service front liners would already know what to do, but the constant complaints indicate that this is not so, and that further training is required.

We recently met with Mondo Castro, who is a training and management consultant for several local and international organizations specializing in topics relating to sales, communications and customer service.

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He is an advocate of revising customer service culture from “top to bottom,” meaning treating everyone in the company and everyone they interface with (and not just the paying client) as a customer.

Intrigued by this all-encompassing notion, we asked him for his thoughts on handling complaints.

What are the usual roadblocks to handling customer complaints effectively?

The first two obstacles would be (1) fear of the situation (and the angry customer!) and its implications and (2) lack of training or knowledge on how to address the complaints.

The need for guidelines or protocol on how to handle this situation is obvious.

What is the effect of proper handling of complaints to my business’ bottom line?

Studies show that if you resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor, the likelihood of repeat business increases.

Moreover, it is proven that a healthy “relationship” with the customer truly benefits the company’s bottom line.

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Yet this aspect is rarely focused on at all.   Companies that develop such a relationship with their customers are always able to command a higher price and inspire loyalty —think Starbucks, to give just one example.

What are the usual complaints received regardless of industry? How do we mitigate them?

The common complaints would be about the customer service provider, the product itself (if any) is a far second.

Attitude is the key to avoiding service debacles and addressing complaints.

A consistency in excellent service develops a “zero complaint” culture that will help mitigate future disasters.

How do we challenge our front liners to remain professional when faced with complaints?

Well, customers are a company’s lifeblood. No customers, no business. No business, no job.  As I have mentioned, “attitude is key.”

Front liners need to understand that what they do reflects on the company image. They need to act, think, and feel like owners of the business.

Finally, we all need to initiate a paradigm shift from “customer service industry mindset” to a “customer service mindset.”

It shouldn’t matter what business you are in, be it accounting or running a restaurant. Everyone is into customer service and everyone is a customer.  (The author is Executive Director of Inquirer Academy.)

Mondo will be facilitating a workshop entitled “Handling Customer Complaints: Communicate and Connect with your Customers” on Sept. 27.

The program is the first in Inquirer Academy’s Customer Service series.

It is designed to help participants develop the skills to communicate with the customer and understand the situation.

The Inquirer Academy is located at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City.

For more information about the Customer Service series or any future programs, you may email ask@inquireracademy.com, call (632) 834-1557 and look for Jerald Miguel, or visit the website at www.inquireracademy.com.

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