The last thing a customer with a complaint wants to hear you say is: “You’re wrong.” What they want to hear is that you understand them, appreciate them and agree with them on the importance of the value they have cited in their complaint.
Ron Kaufman, author of Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet (Evolve Publishing, $14.95), suggests developing a few basic scripts to use when responding to customer complaints:
Customer complaint: Rude service
Your customer says: “Your staff was rude and totally unprofessional.”
You say: “You are right to expect courteous, respectful and professional staff.”
Customer complaint: Too many rules
Your customer says: “Your policies are rigid. Your company is so bureaucratic.”
You say: “I agree that we should be as flexible and user-friendly as possible. Your suggestions can really help.”
Customer complaint: You're overpriced
Your customer says: “This food isn’t anything like what I was promised. And your prices are way too high!”
You say: “I am on your side in this situation. You have a right to be satisfied with whatever you purchase from us. You deserve good value for your money. Let’s review what you have purchased and see if there’s a better option for you.”
Customer complaint: Service is too slow
Your customer says: “I’ve been waiting forever. Why did my order take you so long?”
You say: “We understand that in today’s world, speed counts. You deserve fast, friendly service.”
Customer complaint: Your website is not well-designed
Your customer says: “Your website is terrible. I couldn’t find the information I needed.”
You say: “You are right to want an informative, user-friendly website. What information couldn’t you find? Your suggestions on how to improve the site are a big help.”
Kaufman says that these kinds of responses make the customer feel gratified. They don't involve arguing over the facts. They show that you actively agree with customers about something you and they value most.
"Let’s face it," Kaufman observes. "The customer is not always right. But customers are always important, and we can make them feel much better by agreeing with them on the importance of the service dimensions they identify and value."