How To Handle Customer Complaints Effectively In 5 Steps

How To Handle Customer Complaints Effectively In 5 Steps

Have you ever faced angry customers who seemed impossible to satisfy? Do you struggle with resolving complaints in a way that leaves both parties satisfied? 

Customer complaints can be overwhelming and frustrating to handle. They can damage your brand’s reputation and lead to lost business opportunities. Managing customer complaints is not just about solving the issue at hand. It’s about preserving your customer relationships and keeping your brand image intact.

“If you’re competitor-focused, you must wait until a competitor is doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.” – Jeff Bezos How else can you embody a customer-centric approach if you cannot effectively handle customer complaints?

Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s a guide that can help you master this aspect of customer service. Look no further. We have introduced this handy article for you. With our step-by-step guide, you’ll learn powerful techniques to turn complaints into opportunities for growth.

Are you ready to learn the art of handling them effectively and watch your business thrive like never before? Let’s go!

What Customer Complaints Really Are?

A customer complaint formally communicates a problem, concern, or negative feedback shared with a software company. Issue reports often stem from differences between what capabilities a SaaS vendor promises and the actual client experience.

Complaints from customers can come in various guises. They may surface due to delayed technical support response times, unhelpful support staff, software bugs, glitches, ineffective internal workflows, or inadequate communication. 

For instance, your users may raise a complaint if their subscription access gets suspended without notice or when they contact customer support for assistance but calls go unanswered.

Addressing customer complaints appropriately is essential for retaining customers and their trust. It’s best to acknowledge each issue promptly, investigate the root cause thoroughly, provide updates regularly, and take steps to prevent recurrence. Your customers will appreciate the transparency and commitment to quality they see from how their concerns get handled.

How To Handle Customer Complaints

  1. Uncover the Root Cause by Asking Insightful Questions
  2. Tailor Your Approach to Understand The Customer Types
  3. Prioritize Promptness for Swift Customer Engagement
  4. Delivering Solutions for Ensuring Problem Resolution and Validation
  5. Track and Improve by Document Complaints for Trend Analysis

Step 1: Uncover the Root Cause by Asking Insightful Questions

When a customer complains, getting to the root cause is essential. Surface-level reactions will not solve the underlying issues or prevent future complaints. Insightful questioning is key to understanding all perspectives and truly resolving problems.

Ask open-ended questions to have the customer fully explain the situation without assumptions. 

Questions like “Can you tell me more about XYZ?”, “What specific part is causing the frustration?” and “How can I help get a better understanding?” allow their experience to emerge without interruption.

For example, complex customer implementations often lead to complaints for a SaaS company. 

Let us say your customer expressed frustration with their implementation timeline. Then, you can ask questions about how they found the features compared to expectations. It will reveal their specific workflows need to be adequately considered during setup. 

By understanding the root cause of the timing issues, you could work with their team to optimize feature configurations to their needs rather than just committing to an earlier deadline.

Think reflectively as well to avoid biases. Ask, “What am I missing?” and reconsider any preconceived notions to see all angles. Complaints present learning opportunities if addressed with curiosity instead of defensiveness. Taking time for open and honest discussion builds better relationships and prevents future problems.

When escalation is needed, explain the referral process clearly and politely. Something like, “Thanks for bringing this to me. To best address your issue, I’m transferring you to our project manager, Jake, who oversaw your implementation.” 

Providing a resolution-focused hand-off maintains goodwill.

Step 2: Tailor Your Approach to Understand The Customer Types

When handling complaints, understanding the customer’s perspective is critical. Tailoring your approach based on their needs and behaviors leads to more positive resolutions.

Some customers are frustrated but willing to work with you. Ask clarifying questions and reflect on root causes without judgment. 

Present solutions focused on meeting their goals, not who is at fault. With an angry customer, you must acknowledge their concern and reassure them that your team is committed to success. This way, tension will get resolved after outlining a plan, and they will feel heard.

High-profile customers expect premium treatment due to strategic value or spending. Timely, priority responses are crucial to retain these relationships. 

Your most prominent client issues must receive immediate VIP escalation through your implementation manager to resolve any problems quickly. When you provide prompt service, the high-level care reassures customers that their investment is worth it.

Frequent complainer types may communicate problems regularly due to thorough monitoring or perfectionism. Stay empathetic to avoid abrasiveness over time. For instance, a customer who reaches out weekly can foster mutual understanding by actively listening without judgment. 

Some avoid confrontation, and you risk losing them in silence. Proactively check in with at-risk customers through account reviews. Some clients may hesitate to express concerns during the onboarding process, fearing they might be a bother. Reassure them by following up with supportive communication. 

Chisel’s Audience tool, demonstrating the distribution of a questionnaire directly to the target audience.
Chisel’s Audience Panel tool enables direct distribution of questionnaires to your specified target audience.

You can effectively utilize Chisel’s Audience Panel tool to categorize your customers, enabling you to deliver the highest quality customer service possible.

Sign up for Chisel’s Free Forever version here!

Step 3: Prioritize Promptness for Swift Customer Engagement

According to recent research published on HubSpot, 82% of consumers actively seek an immediate response from brands regarding marketing or sales inquiries. This group considers an immediate response as either important or very important when interacting with businesses. 

This expectation holds true for customer complaints as well. Delays can further frustrate customers and damage the relationship.

Major incidents impacting implementations or production environments require immediate attention. You must prioritize these complaint tickets through our escalation process. 

You can utilize a dedicated support queue for non-critical complaints still needing timely follow-up. It prevents less urgent feedback from falling through the cracks. Addressing all customer correspondence promptly builds confidence in your support commitment.

For example, let us say a customer reported UI inconsistencies between two separate implementations. Though not production-impacting, it required debugging. By responding within an hour and scheduling a call for that afternoon, you could understand the problem before it compounded. With swift coordination, we resolved the issue before their next sprint.

Transparent SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and timely updates regarding hand-offs maintain trust when unavoidable delays arise. Rapid and reliable responses foster goodwill, encouraging customers to provide open feedback and view the organization as a true partner.

An image depicting the interface of Chisel’s Feedback Portal, showcasing the option for customers to share, store, and prioritize their ideas through a simple link.
Chisel’s Feedback Portal provides customers with a platform to easily share, store, and prioritize their ideas

You can leverage Chisel’s tools, such as the User Survey and Feedback Portal, to streamline the feedback collection process for your team. It not only enhances efficiency but also saves time and energy, enabling your team to respond promptly to your customers. 

Sign up for Chisel’s Free Forever version here!

Step 4: Delivering Solutions for Ensuring Problem Resolution and Validation

Once you have communicated a proposed solution to the customer, confirming that it has resolved the reported issue is crucial. Effectively solving customer problems is key to maintaining positive relationships and high satisfaction ratings.

There are a few approaches one can take to verify solution effectiveness. Firstly, if remote debugging isn’t possible, politely request that the customer confirm once they’ve tested the solution. It ensures follow-up if needed.

Alternatively, test the solution and include objective evidence like screenshots in your follow-up. For example, replicating the original complaint issue in a development environment and showing it no longer occurs after applying the solution builds trust.

Following up after several days may also be worthwhile to ensure long-term resolution. Bugs can resurface, and customer environments differ. Continued communication demonstrates a commitment to satisfaction.

Lastly, closely monitoring post-conversation feedback is advisable. Negative ratings may indicate lingering unresolved elements. Addressing these promptly prevents larger issues. Solution verification protects the customer experience and allows rapid responsiveness to persisting problems.

An image showing Chisel AI's interface with a visual representation of feedback tickets being automatically categorized. 
Chisel’s AI capabilities will help you streamline the feedback classification process by automatically categorizing tens of thousands of feedback tickets in seconds

When dealing with a large volume of feedback, the ability of Chisel AI to automatically classify both external and internal feedback with relevant tags becomes indispensable. Instead of relying on manual efforts that could be time-consuming and prone to errors, Chisel AI efficiently categorizes tens of thousands of feedback tickets in a blink of an eye.

Sign up for Chisel’s Free Forever version here!

Step 5: Track and Improve by Document Complaints for Trend Analysis

To continuously improve the customer experience, tracking complaints and analyzing trends systematically is important. 

First, you must choose a tracking system to record customer complaints systematically. It could include implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or helpdesk platform to capture relevant details about each complaint, such as the date, customer, product or service involved, resolution provided, and customer feedback. Assigning a unique identifier like a ticket number avoids duplication.

Read our guide on how to gather and analyze user feedback effectively.

Next, an appropriate categorization approach helps classify the nature and severity of issues. For example, complaints could get sorted into categories like product quality, delivery, pricing, billing, communication, or technical problems. 

Additional subcategories specify the complaint type as defective, damaged, late, incorrect, unclear, or rude. This sorting helps prioritize resolution and analysis.

The tracking system then allows monitoring of complaints over time to see changes in volume, frequency, and categories. Metrics such as the number of complaints received and resolved, average response and resolution times, customer satisfaction, and cost of complaint handling provide performance measurements. 

Charts and graphs visualize trends or patterns like seasonal peaks, correlations with other factors, and so on.

Finally, analyzing the trends and patterns from the documented complaints reveals valuable customer insights. 

Methods like descriptive statistics, root cause analysis, Pareto analysis, and sentiment analysis identify primary causes and effects, service gaps, evolving customer needs, and areas for improvement. With a systematic process to track, categorize, monitor, and study recurring complaints, the company can continually enhance its customer experience.

Tips to Minimize Customer Complaints

Let us look at some great tips to make sure customer complaints are reduced:

Tip 1. Utilizing Technology for Enhanced Customer Service

Using technology specifically designed for customer service can help reduce complaints. In the past, businesses may have tracked customer issues on spreadsheets. Still, that approach is no longer effective in today’s digital world. Customer service software stored in the cloud allows businesses to manage customer issues better.

Additionally, ticket automation tools can be helpful by routing specific customer tickets to the right agents automatically. It ensures issues are addressed promptly without manual handling. Some tools even enable automatic responses to common customer queries. Tickets can also be tagged and prioritized without agent involvement.

Tip 2. Ensure Accessibility for Customers Through Multiple Channels

Companies must provide customers with multiple ways to contact customer support to minimize complaints. 

You should allow flexibility rather than forcing customers to use only one channel, like email or phone. It allows customers to choose their preferred method based on their needs and circumstances. Some customers may prefer email, while others want to chat online or use social media.

By offering support through different channels, companies avoid upsetting customers right away by making them use a channel they don’t want. However, companies don’t need every communication option available – starting with two or three popular choices is sufficient.

The best way to decide which channels to use is by asking customers directly. Companies can create a short survey to gather input. The survey should ask where customers would like support options to be available and where they spend most of their online time. It gives customers a voice in the process and helps companies implement a multi-channel strategy that meets real customer needs and preferences.

An image depicting the User Survey tool by Chisel interface, showcasing its versatile features for crafting surveys. 
Chisel’s User Survey tool offers flexibility in survey creation

Chisel’s Survey tool comes in handy in situations like this. With options like employing preexisting templates or the ability to create an efficient survey from scratch, Chisel has to be your go-to.

Sign up for Chisel’s Free Forever version here!

Tip 3. Make The Best Use of Self-Service Portal

Provide self-service options for customers to minimize complaints. Allowing customers to help themselves usually reduces the number of issues directly to your representatives. 

Some common self-service features companies offer include a knowledge base, a frequently asked questions page, and online discussion forums. These resources give customers information and support without having to contact an agent.

Research shows most customers expect a company’s website to include self-help tools. It demonstrates self-service has become an important expectation, not just a nice added feature. An easy-to-understand and thorough self-service section can save customers and companies time and hassle.

Besides websites, self-service is available through other channels, like live chat, interactive voice response systems, text messages, and social media. 

Customers often turn to these means first to solve problems instead of calling. Giving clients different ways to help themselves through digital options satisfies their preferences. It reduces potential complaints to customer support teams.

Tip 4. Ensure the Problem Finds the Right Representative

Directing customer complaints to the right agent who can quickly resolve the issue is important. 

Agents have different experience levels and skills, so companies must carefully analyze each complaint to determine the appropriate agent to handle it. Sending complaints to an agent without the right knowledge or skills can damage the brand’s reputation and cause customers to lose trust.

Assigning complaints to the best-qualified agent allows the company to provide an accurate answer immediately. It helps deepen the relationship with the customer through good customer service. Companies should also give agents access to a centralized knowledge base. Hence, they have all the necessary information to handle issues from any channel. 

Providing the right data empowers agents to respond quickly and with confidence. Directing complaints to knowledgeable agents who can solve problems immediately is key to minimizing customer complaints.

Tip 5. Well-Organized Post-Interaction Follow-Up

Once the immediate problem gets resolved and the customers are satisfied, it’s smart to take an extra step. It means having higher-ups, like management, reach out to these customers afterward. The follow-up conversation could be through a phone call or a personalized email.

Why do this? Firstly, it reinforces the idea that the customer matters and their experience is crucial to the company. Secondly, it is a check-in to ensure the problem hasn’t cropped up again. If it has, it signals that an underlying issue might need more attention.

The impact of these follow-ups is pretty significant. It can significantly influence how a customer perceives the brand in the long run. Positive follow-ups might turn what could have been a negative review into a positive one. It’s about showing that the company invests in its customers’ experiences and proactively resolves recurring issues.

Key Takeaways

One of the biggest challenges companies face is addressing the growing number of customer complaints promptly and effectively. If left unresolved, customer complaints can seriously damage brand reputation and trust.

Ninety-five percent of American consumers indicate that how customer support representatives communicate with them, creating a sense of value, significantly influences their decision to continue engaging with a company.

That is why we have come up with this article that has provided several helpful solutions that will help you figure out how to handle customer complaints like a pro. Prioritizing customer satisfaction over correcting individual issues can build stronger, longer-lasting relationships.

Leveraging tools like Chisel’s integrated platforms takes this a step further. Features like Feedback Portal, AI for automation, and analytics empower businesses to spot issues early, consistently exceed expectations, and prevent future complaints.

Checking out Chisel is highly recommended if your company is struggling with the increasing workload of customer complaints. Chisel’s customized solutions can enable you to accelerate response times, improve resolution rates, and free up your team to focus on strategic customer satisfaction tasks.

Sign up for Chisel’s Free Forever version here!

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