Whether you’re in service, retail, or just about any business, the holiday season usually means crunch time. While Black Friday stampedes are hopefully not going to be a thing this year, customer issues and complaints from other avenues might actually be higher than ever. Properly fielding and resolving these complaints can mean the difference between creating a lifetime customer and losing a customer forever, especially given the other hardships and pressures that 2020 has seen consumers facing.
Listen and Empathize
2020 has been a difficult year for consumers, and the holiday season itself can be stressful even under normal circumstances. When customers run into issues during their experience, these frustrations can therefore become amplified. Make sure your customer service/experience teams aren’t minimizing these problems. Although they might sometimes appear to be on the smaller side of things, the way that these problems are experienced by your customers can be quite different. Instead, make sure to listen intently and empathize with the complaints the customers are making. Not only will seeing things from their perspective help on its own to alleviate the stress of the customer, but it will also aid in searching for an adequate answer/solution for the complaint.
Search for a Solution Together
A lot of businesses have a pretty straightforward rundown of how to solve customer complaints. And while this can certainly be helpful for expediting the process of addressing customer complaints, which is increasingly more necessary at scale with the size of the business itself, sometimes the solutions aren’t readily apparent. Sometimes, the “by the book” solution isn’t adequate, which might especially be the case during a stressful holiday season. As a quick example, a delivery arriving a day late throughout the rest of the year might not be cause for too much concern, but during the holiday season, it can mean the difference between having a gift ready on a certain day or not. More commonly, and applicable throughout the entire year, are situations in which there is more than one appropriate solution to a problem. Simply asking questions like “how would you like to see this resolved?” can not only help you to arrive at the solution that suits the customer best but can also demonstrate to the customer that their opinions matter and that they have agency within the process.
Take Immediate Action
There’s little that’s more frustrating than when a business feels like they’re taking forever to get back to you. When this happens to customers, they feel ignored and unvalued, and whatever negative feelings that they have associated with their customer experience will only fester and grow.
Even if you can’t necessarily solve the issue immediately, you need to let your customers know that their solution is in motion. You need to make sure that some action is taken right away and that customers feel like they’re being actively taken care of. This can be as simple as an automated message that is sent out when complaints are received digitally, or basic assurances that the problem will be looked into as soon as possible when complaints are fielded over-the-phone or in-person.
Of course, although it is not always possible, the best option is to begin working the problem right away, and making sure that customers don’t walk away without a solution. Immediately taking care of the problem wholesale, again, isn’t something that can always be done, but it is what you should shoot for.
These days, with dedicated support lines and chat applications, and the ability to initiate returns, refunds, and credits electronically, there are a number of avenues that you can explore to refine your customer service process. Either way, demonstrating that you’re taking some sort of action right away will communicate to your customers that they are prioritized, important, and valued.
Follow-up With a Discount or Loyalty Reward
When customers have a negative experience, it’s not always possible to simply replace an item or initiate a return. Often, that’s not even what the customer is after, nor does it, in many cases, supply a meaningful solution to their problem. In these situations, loyalty rewards and courtesy credits are your best bet.
These can demonstrate to customers that, although their particular situation didn’t warrant a refund or a policy change or indeed any other sort of direct solution, that you still value them as customers, and want to help assuage their frustrations, make up for time lost dealing with the issue, and are willing to find a solution when one isn’t readily apparent. As-good-as-cash rewards are some of the most sought after and appreciated loyalty rewards, and they’re also some of the most impactful in terms of boosting customer loyalty.
Endeavor to Prevent Complaints from Happening
One of the best ways to deal with complaints is to deal with the issues themselves before they begin to cause those complaints. It’s not always possible to identify the complaints that customers will have, but there are ways to self-assess your business to make sure that the most likely potential culprits for generating issues and complaints are dealt with before they can do so.
There likely isn’t a business out there that is free of complaints, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to minimize the potential for complaints before they happen. Making sure your customer experience is as smooth and problem-free as possible is not only going to free up your support team to better and more rapidly handle the issues that do come up, but it will also keep your customers happy and keep them coming back again and again.
Customer Complaints in 2020
In short, there are a number of ways that you can deal with customer complaints in 2020, but they all call for an increased amount of sensitivity and understanding, given the difficult and unprecedented year that many consumers have had, and the fact that the holiday season can, even under normal circumstances, be a source of major stress.
One excellent way to solve your customer complaint issues this season is with our holiday gift cards. You can order them in bulk to keep on hand this season to help put your customers into the holiday spirit, and hopefully encourage more customer loyalty in the long run.