Dealing with an irate customer is usually not the most pleasant task. However, it’s something we all have to deal with at one point or another. It is vital for you and your business to know how to take a customer complaint and turn it into a positive experience. Complaints are great because they tell you the services your clients are not happy with and also give you the opportunity to address the issues at hand.
The CARP Method
The CARP method, developed by author Robert Bacal, is based upon the sequence and timing of defusing angry customers. Bacal has taught many universities the importance of performance management and appraisal and how to improve business communication. The CARP acronym consist of these helpful tips to remember when trying to calm an angry client.
Control: Take control of the situation with language that shows you’re ready to handle customer concerns and don’t intend to play any games.
Acknowledge: It’s important that the angry customer sees that you understand his/her emotional state and the situation. Two major techniques to apply here are empathy and active listening.
Refocus: Refocusing involves making the transition from dealing with the emotions to dealing with the actual problem.
Problem-Solve: Problem-solving involves actions like getting and giving information, suggesting possibilities and appearing helpful, offering choices and following through.
Tip: Confirm that everything has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
How to Put a Positive Spin on the Situation
Write a Genuine Apology to the Client
Acknowledging that you were in the wrong shows your client that you have no problem admitting to your mistakes. A reasonable customer will thank you and hopefully spread the word through positive word-of-mouth. This can then lead to repeat business and plenty of referrals.
Tip: Consider the following phrases in drafting your apology: “We apologize for…”; “I was troubled to discover…”; “Please accept our apology for…”; “Please forgive me for…”; “We acknowledge that we…”
Prepare a Template
Create a complaint-taking template for your company to use so that when your staff or you answer the phone, you won’t be thrown off track and miss essential details that you need to resolve the complaint. This template should make your job easier, especially if the caller is upset, rambling, or when you’re having a hectic day.
Also, this is a good opportunity to get a testimonial for your company website. However, be sure to show the resolution. This kind of testimonial can serve as a great reassurance to prospects that even if a problem arises, they’ll be happy with the outcome and final project.
Make Sure Everyone Is on the Same Page
Convene a meeting to use complaints as a learning tool for the entire company, including subcontractors and office staff.
Using the following tactics when presented with a customer complaint will allow your client to air out frustration while you gather the necessary information to fix the problem.
- Listen: Remember to remain calm, composed and always be professional.
- Assure: Let customers know that you’re there to help. Write down key information regarding the problem.
- Don’t interrupt: Only interject when asking instrumental questions that can help with the resolution of the problem. For example: “What happened next?” “How can I help you?”
- Really understand the problem: Before you provide a solution, confirm important details of the issue with your client.
- Express empathy: Don’t say you know how they feel. Simply assure them that you are there to help. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Give specifics about the resolution: Always make sure that the client agrees with your proposed solution.
- Always follow-up: Assure your customers that even after the problem has been solved that you are always available to address their future concerns.
If addressing a complaint on social media or on an online review site, make sure that you resolve the issue publicly as well as privately. Handling a negative review privately will look like you aren’t addressing the issue. However, you don’t want to go back and forth with the customer in front of everyone. Use your best judgement.
When it comes down to it, having a little more patience with a customer who has a long list of complaints will go a long way. How well you handle the situation will determine whether or not this experience will be a positive one for your reputation. Assuring your team that complaints are good in enhancing the services you provide may help others receive them better.
What tactics are you using to calm down an irate customer? How often does a complaint turn into a positive for your company? Tell us in the comments below.