How to Handle Customer Complaints

An online community can be the perfect outlet for transforming customer support into a powerful and engaging experience. Online communities provide efficient support through improved customer knowledge; people can resolve problems at their own speed and learn as much or as little as they want. Companies can pre-populate communities with strong content to address frequently asked questions. Further, customers can connect with others based on similar interests, such as product inquiries or support issues – and even route questions to experts for immediate answers.

However, no customer support strategy is perfect. Customers will continue to complain and customer support will fail to meet expectations. In fact, 78% of consumers end a business relationship due to poor customer service.  How can you effectively resolve customer complaints and avoid the risk of losing their business? It depends on customer’s beliefs, attitudes, and needs.

study conducted by the University of Florida identified five types of customers and their complaints. Each archetype has different expectations that should be considered in order to effectively deliver customer support:

1. The Meek Customer

The Meek Customer will avoid submitting a complaint because he or she does not want to be a pain or believes you don’t care.

How to Respond: Start a conversation – perhaps during a check-in call or by sending a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey – to gauge customer satisfaction, start a dialogue, and actively resolve any complaints.

The Risk: The customer will leave quietly without giving you any indication as to what went wrong. 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave. Do not view the absence of feedback as a sign of satisfaction.

2. The Aggressive Customer

The exact opposite of the Meek Customer, the Aggressive Customer will loudly voice any complaints and will not accept excuses.

How to Respond: Thank the customer for sharing their concern and listen. Be polite, agree on the definition of the problem, and explain what is being done to resolve the situation and when.

The Risk: In heated customer situations, it’s easy to become confrontational. Mirroring the customer’s aggressive behavior will only make the situation worse. Thanking the customers for sharing their concerns lets them know you are sincerely interested in hearing what they have to say and reaching a mutually-beneficial resolution.

3. The High Roller Customer

Perhaps your enterprise customers, these individuals pay well and expect premium support. A High Roller Customer is likely to complain in a reasonable manner unless he or she is an Aggressive Customer hybrid.

How to Respond: This customer wants the best. Listen respectfully, acknowledge that a problem exists, understand the details of the situation, and work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

The Risk: Like The Aggressive Customer, the High Roller Customer doesn’t want to hear excuses. They want the problem resolved in a timely manner.

4. The Rip-Off Customer

Instead of looking for an answer or satisfactory support experience, the Rip-Off Customer is looking for a handout.

How to Respond: Maintain composure and respond objectively. If the customer constantly and repetitively says your solution isn’t good enough, use accurate quantified data to back up your response.

The Risk: If not handled correctly, this customer may take advantage of your company and end up with something he or she doesn’t deserve.

5. The Chronic Complainer Customer

The Chronic Complainer Customer is never happy and continuously reports issues.

How to Respond: Although it may be frustrating, it is still your responsibility to provide excellent support to the Chronic Complainer. He or she wants an apology. Listen respectfully, provide a sympathetic ear, and put forth an honest effort to correct the situation.

The Risk: It is very likely that the Chronic Complainer will contact support again. However, unlike the Rip-Off Customer, this customer will accept and appreciate your efforts to fix the situation. Despite their constant complaints, Chronic Complainers are often repeat customers and will tell others about positive support experiences.

No matter the complainer, actively take note of what your customer is saying. Complaints, although frustrating, present an opportunity to strengthen your support experience. After a support issue is resolved, use customer feedback as inspiration for new community content. For example, create a best practices checklist or new tutorial video based on lessons learned from a conversation with an unhappy customer. This will create a more powerful self-service experience that benefits not only your customer but also your support team.

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