As any marketing field, B2B marketing has also to deal with customer’s complaints. An impressive number of products and services providers are irritated by the complaints received from their customers, considering them offences or, worse, reasons to end relationships with those customers.
The idea is to be always prepared to receive some complaints from your customers, because you cannot eliminate them completely, no matter how careful you are. Even if you use only B2B marketing tools you should think of welcoming these complaints with a positive attitude, focusing first of all to maintain the relationship with that customer. He or she has to be assured that his or her complaint is being given first level priority and will be treated accordingly.
Here are three recommended things on how to deal with customer complaints that can change your perspective on the matter.
1. Clients usually want less than you think.
2. The customers that have never had a problem of any kind are not as loyal as those who have had a problem that you successfully took care of.
3. The customers that take their time to complain about something want to see things improve. Of course, this can also help you develop your business.
Which are the best ways to deal with the customers complaints? I shall elaborate the three ideas presented above, by giving you some tips:
1. The cheapest and simplest way to deal with a complaint is to ask the customer how you can mend the situation. If the company policy is to do anything you have to make things right, the simple fact that you are asking the customer what you can do for him or her will bring about surprising results. The client will ask less than he or she would have asked after a negotiation. For instance, a client will be willing to accept the sale coupons you are offering him or her and will not request damages for your product delivery delay if you manage to convince him or her that you truly want to fix the unpleasant situation.
2. The customers that have never had a problem of any kind are not as loyal as the clients who have had a problem that you successfully took care of. This principle is so important to keep in mind that it is just another way of saying that, sometimes, it is worth making mistakes as long as you have the chance to fix things up.
Seriously speaking, on many occasions employees believe it is their job to protect the company from the client. Moreover, they often think that complaints are a sign of weakness, not an opportunity to grow. None of these ideas will change unless the top management proves and acts accordingly. Otherwise, who would dare to solve a problem if they knew they could get into trouble for doing so? From my experience, the most productive and inventive employees are those who know how to take over the customer complaints, how to assume the guilt for their own mistakes and who are willing to find smart solving solutions. These employees should not be discouraged in taking over the complaints but, quite on the contrary, they should be stimulated to take them over as professionally as possible.
Remember: The cheapest way to deal with a complaint is to apologize and ask the customer how you can sort things out. There are four steps that will help you do this effectively:
- Establish a communication rapport. Tell your customer from the beginning that you are on his side. It is more than just a simple excuse; it is also a good start.
- Discover the problem. Ask your customer to describe his or her problem exactly and listen carefully.
- Offer a complete solution. Ask your customer what he or she thinks is fair. Agree with him or her and offer more to prove to him/her that you are serious.
- Consolidate the relationship. Apologize again and tell your customer what you will do to prevent a similar situation in the future.
In simpler terms, the rule is: do whatever you can to solve the problems when something is not right — anything.
Right after solving the problem, a follow-up will come after to make sure that everything is alright and the client is pleased. This will have a massive contribution to improving the relationship with that customer. After making sure you have a customer that is pleased you can make him or her a special offer, which is not available for everyone at that moment. For instance, I have noticed that a sale or a free transaction can encourage him/her to get back to you as the provider.
Make sure you identify very well the causes that have determined your client to file a complaint and eliminate them as effectively and as soon as possible. This way a complaint can become a way of discovering the weak points of your own business and of correcting them before the entire sales volume is affected.
3. A client that has a problem is actually asking you to help him or her remain your client. Those who complain are your most loyal clients. They want you two to continue doing business together. If they did not, they would simply go to a different goods or services provider. From my entrepreneurial experience I have learnt that the clients who make complaints give you the chance to improve your business. Don’t miss it!
The complaints are, actually, opportunities you still have not discovered. If you have and have not solved them, it means that you do not deserve customers as nice as those willing to help you.
The clients that make complaints are your friends. Still, try to keep this friends’ list as short as possible!