Outstanding customer service starts with solid customer relationships. To build trust and respect, qualities of a solid relationship, craft a simple process to resolve complaints. Consistently following the same process will help your organization address both the emotional and practical aspects of an issue.

Here’s a quick Complaint Resolution Process to help you achieve outstanding customer service:

1.  Greet

Always answer the phone or greet people in person as though you are happy to hear from them. Begin in a friendly way. This is easy to say, but can be difficult to do. We need to be able to “live in day-tight compartments” and separate previous negative experiences from this customer contact.

2.  Listen

We often get the same kinds of complaints, so it becomes challenging to really listen to people. Give them an opportunity to vent some of their frustration. Be empathetic. Listen for facts and feelings. Resist the temptation to start responding too quickly. Show signs of active listening, like brief interjections or clarifying questions.

3.  Questions

Ask questions to clarify the concern – resist responding until you understand the person and their issues.

Elementary questions capture the basic facts of the problem. This gives us an opportunity to take some of the emotion out of the complaint.

Elaborative questions gather more details. This gives the customer a chance to expand on their issues and feelings.  These questions should be relatively short, to encourage the customer to talk more.

Evaluative questions help us gain an understanding of the severity of the issue, in the mind of the customer.  This is also where we evaluate what will satisfy the customer.

4.  Empathize

Find a point of agreement with the person. This does not necessarily mean that we agree with the complaint. This is where we show the customer that we heard and understood their concern, and we recognize that it is important to them.

5.  Address the Issue

Now that the emotional issues have been addressed, do everything in your power to resolve the practical aspects of the complaint. Take responsibility for the actions of your organization. This is your opportunity to turn a lemon into lemonade. People who have their problems successfully resolved tend to continue to do business with you.

6.  Test Questions

Ask questions to test how well you have resolved the emotional and practical sides of the complaint. Give the customer another opportunity to talk. Be a good listener.

7.  Offer Additional Help

Ask what else you can do for this customer. This allows an opportunity to turn the conversation away from the complaint, which makes it easier to end on a positive note.

8.  Follow Through

Often, complaints cannot be resolved completely on the first point of contact. If you need to get back to the customer, do so quickly and thoroughly. Even if the complaint has been resolved, create a reason to contact the customer again. For example, find a way to give added value. Also, look for ways to solve the root causes of problems within your organization.

To learn how we can provide customized, on-site Customer Service training for your organization, contact Elissa Ruckle at 307.277.4782 or Elissa.Ruckle@dalecarnegie.com.

Elissa Ruckle