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Customer complaining to the business owner on the phone

How to Handle Customer Complaints About Your Service Business

Why it’s Important to Have a Customer Complaint Procedure

What customers say about your service business matters. 

From time to time a customer complaint will happen. When it does, it’s important to determine how your business is going to handle it. Allowing a complaint to fester can be bad for business.

This is why being equipped to handle customer complaints is critical to improving online business ratings. It will keep the reputation of your business intact, so you can avoid public relation nightmares.  

Not to mention, when others search for services online they won’t be turned off to choosing you over the competition. 

Prevention is your first line of defense against customer complaints. However, when that’s not possible here’s what you can do to ensure customer complaints don’t became a drag on your business.:

1. Create a Customer Complaint Handling Procedure

The best way to handle customer complaints is to have a procedure in place for when they do happen. It may take some upfront work to develop a customer complaint process, but it can have real benefits for your service business in the long term if all employees are on the same page.

Be proactive and not reactive. Consider what your customer complaint handling procedure will look like:

  • Develop a program to train each member of your team to effectively handle complaints. Give them specific strategies for how to respond while maintaining high-quality service, and ways to troubleshoot any issues before the complaint grows to become bigger issues. 
  • When customer complaints arise, what kinds of solutions will you offer to the customer? Which team member(s) handle the complaint? What is the chain of escalation?
  • Is there a way to address the issue before the customer leaves a bad review online?
  • Assign a team member to regularly respond to customer reviews online. 

It’s important to document and review the procedures from time to time during your staff onboarding and training sessions.

2. Listen to Customer Complaints

Your customers want to feel heard and know that they are a real priority to you. It seems simple, but when handling a customer complaint, spend time listening to the details of the issue.

Get in touch either over the phone (this is preferable to email) to allow your customer to share their grievances.

As a business owner, it will make the customer feel cared for since you are taking time out of your day to understand and address how they are feeling.  

As your customer explains, show empathy and apologize for the role your business may have played in the issue occurring. 

Keep the details on the complaint in your records. Use these records to identify potential service weaknesses and improve future service appointments.

For example, perhaps a customer is upset because one of your mobile music teachers showed up late to the appointment. Consider why your team member was later, could they have been delayed because the previous customer's home was significantly further away. By not accounting for travel time, this made the music teacher late and there is potential that this could happen again. How can you use this information to improve team routing?

3. Take Responsibility for Customer Complaints 

One of the least effective things you can do when a customer has a complaint is to make  excuses. It’s much more effective and beneficial for the relationship to take responsibility regardless of who was in the wrong.

Let them know exactly how you are working to find a solution to the issue for them and how you’re going to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Ask your customer how you can resolve the situation and offer them something to make the situation right. Considering one of  the following: 

  • Completing the work to their satisfaction
  • Providing a gift card or Discount on a future service 
  • A partial or full refund depending on the severity of the issue 

For example, if you’re an owner of a business that offers beauty services,  and a customer isn’t happy with their recent manicure from a member of your team, then you can offer to redo the manicure free of charge or provide  a discount on a future manicure service with another service provider.

4. Improve the Customer Experience 

If your service business gets complaints, you can use them to continuously make improvements to your business operations and customer service. This will ensure the same issue doesn’t happen again. 

The customer experience isn’t static. While customer complaints are never fun to hear about they can be an excellent source of insight into how you can make the experience for your customers better. 

For instance, if you own a home services business and a customer leaves a 2 star rating for a  plumber who was fixing a clogged pipe you can see it on the review software and get in touch to see why they weren’t happy with the service. Learn from the complaint to ensure another customer doesn’t experience the same issue again. 

Customer complaints will happen, but it’s what your business does to handle them that will make the largest impact. Consider how you will approach complaints and how your business will keep a positive online reputation.

Book a demo with MarketBox to discover how to improve your customer complaint procedures.

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