Knowing how to handle an unhappy or disgruntled customer is a vital skill when it comes to retaining clients and maintaining your golden reputation.
A good reputation takes months, if not years to build, but can be eradicated almost overnight — all it might take is one complaint from one client. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you know how to handle a customer who is less than pleased with some aspect of your service, or possibly with the service of the gym that employs you.
When handling a customer complaint, the key is to add a personal touch and take ownership of the issue. In this article I will address 12 points that you should take into consideration when dealing with a dissatisfied customer.
12 Points to Consider When Handling Customer Complaints
- Empathize with the client. Tell them that you know how they feel. You can even go a step further and tell them a personal anecdote involving a similar experience of your own.
- Listen to everything that they say, give them your undivided attention, and do not interrupt them. Ask questions so that you fully understand their situation, increasing the chances of you being able to rectify the situation.
- Take notes as you listen and reiterate all the key points at the end, to assure the client that you have listened and understand their issue.
- Agree with them wherever possible. However if they do say something you vehemently disagree with, question them on that point, but do so politely and non-confrontationally.
- If you’re a trainer who is employed by a gym, you are the ambassador for that brand, so tell the customer that you will handle the issue personally. If you’re self-employed then this goes without saying.
- Build rapport with the client, if you haven’t already done so, find some common ground outside the problem at hand.
- If possible and appropriate, use humour. Humour is an extremely useful tool when trying to get someone to relax and open up.
- Don’t pass the buck or try to find a scapegoat. This looks unprofessional. Admit you and/or the company were wrong, take responsibility and tell the client what you are going to do about it.
- Respond immediately. If the complaint is in the form of email, letter, voicemail, feedback form etc., it’s crucial that you act on it right away. That shows the client that they’re valued by you/the company and respect their opinions.
- When discussing ways to tackle the issue with the client, give them options if possible. Then once a solution has been resolved, confirm it and tell them how you plan to execute it.
- After the issue has been resolved, make a follow-up phone call or email to the client, informing them of any changes/updates.
- Finally, reflect upon yourself and/or the gym. How can this situation be prevented from reoccurring? Do you need to make any personal changes or recommend any changes to be made in the running of the business?
When you handle customer complaints, (particularly in person) it’s very easy to take any criticism personally and as an attack on yourself, but this is very rarely the case.
You must remember that the customer is human, and could have any number of personal issues going on that you aren’t aware of and you may simply have caught them on a bad day. So instead don’t handle customer complaints as an attack on you, look at them as an opportunity to improve!
Customer feedback is essentially free business advice and should be regarded as such.
Building Rapport with Your Clients – Jonathan Goodman
Top 3 Ways to Keep Your Clients Happy – Mike Gorski