1. If possible take them to one side to discuss their concerns – away from other customers. This shows not only professionalism but also sensitivity to the customers needs.
2. Use Active Listening Skills – Don’t interrupt or argue with the customer. Let them express their frustrations / let off steam – however you are not there to be verbally or physical abused by the customer and you must challenge this poor behaviour towards you or others. Do ask questions and clarify to ensure you get to the real issue.
3. Acknowledge & Value their opinion and do show Empathy. – this doesn’t mean agreeing with what they are saying.
4. Use the Sad and Glad approach – I am sorry to hear …. and I am glad that you have brought this to our attention.
5. Ask the Customer what they want to see happen or how they would like to proceed with the matter.
6. Advise the customer what you can do and what you can’t do at this stage in the proceedings. Provide a point of contact ideally yourself and agree a realistic timeframe for an update to them. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Part of this process is recognising if you are the best person to deal with this situation i.e. do you have the right skills, knowledge and experience.
7. Report the matter to your manager if appropriate – know your local procedures.
8. Present Option(s) or remedies to the customer and agree actions you will take and make sure you do what you have said.
9. Ensure you follow up with resolution to the customers satisfaction.
10. Record the complaint details and action taken. Ensure you share the experience with your team so everyone can learn and if appropriate review local policies and procedures for next time. This helps everyone in the team to recognise the benefits of seeking to continuous improvement in the service provided to your customers.
Staff need to be encouraged and empowered to apply Best Practice by being pro-active and taking pre-emptive action (or report to a manager depending on the issue) to address sub-standard service. By nipping issues in the bud early there is higher possibility you will reduce complaints, improve customer satisfaction, improve sales and increase staff motivation. Part of your plan needs to be assessing the skills, knowledge and experience of your staff in providing excellent customer service and managing complaints effectively. In addition all businesses need to have simple and accessible procedures to encourage staff to respond promptly and sensitively to the concerns of customers.
We also need to ensure that our customers are dealt with impartially and without unlawful discrimination and prejudice.