Resolve Retail Customer Complaints in 4 Easy Steps

Bob Phibbs
By |
Difficult customer

It's never easy dealing with a retail customer service issue. Sometimes it may seem like someone is looking to find trouble, but complaining customers are most often just looking for a solution to a frustrating problem.

If you provide excellent customer service, go the extra mile for your customers, and follow procedures then complaints should be rare. When they do occur, however, stay calm. Breathe.

I know, staying calm is tough when your patience is challenged by complaining customers! But customer service means taking the good with the bad.

Use this four-step system to deliver excellent customer service: 

1. Listen
Let the customer voice their complaint without interruption. The biggest mistake is second-guessing a customer service gripe and trying to cut them off before they have finished their story. Use this time as your chance to identify what it is they are REALLY upset about. Remember, don’t take it personally. It’s probably not about you.

2. Acknowledge
Say you understand and are sorry for the situation. An unhappy customer wants your attention and understanding. You won’t lose dignity or concede to being wrong by making the customer feel that you understand their frustration. Remember, you are saying you understand. You are not saying you agree or will give them the moon. They’ll also be more receptive to your solution.

3. Solve
Offer the dissatisfied customer real solutions, telling them what you CAN do for them. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. You might begin by asking what they would like you to do. They may actually require very little. Sometimes we hear “I want my money back” instead of “I want to exchange this.” Resolve the complaint on the spot, whenever possible. If you plan to deal with it later, tell them exactly what you plan to do and when. Make sure you follow up and do it in a timely manner. 

Be careful how you tell a customer a solution. For example, if you say, “Mary’s the only one who can give you a refund” - you have as much said, “Mary will give you a refund.” This may or not be what Mary wants to do. Don’t pass off a complaint for someone else to fix. Listen and put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

4. Thank
And as always, thank them for shopping with you. Remember, if they are satisfied, they'll tell everyone on social media just as they will if they don't get satisfaction.

See also, Stop Selling, Start Listening To Your Retail Customers. 5 Ways How

In Sum

Using this simple four-part method of listening, showing understanding, offering solutions, and acknowledging, you can handle any customer service complaint.

Discover how to provide excellent retail customer service with this comprehensive primer


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