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If you are the kind of shopping cart site owner who simply ignores customer complaints, perhaps because you think unhappy customers simply can’t be saved and aren't worth the effort, consider the following statistics from the Jim Moran Institute and Lee Resources:

'Resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor and they will do business with you again 70% of the time.'

Up to 95% of customers will give you a second chance if you handle their complaint successfully and in a timely manner.'

Sure, you can’t resolve EVERY customer complaint (we all know there are customers out there who complain for the sake of complaining) but the returns your business could see from turning an initially bad customer service experience into a good one are well worth pursuing, especially in this age of social media where one customer’s bad experience can quickly be spread across Facebook and Twitter.

Use the 10 tips below to help you resolve customer complaints in a professional manner:

1. Treat every customer as if they are your best customer

It’s important you treat every customer equally, don’t give somebody less time because they have only spent $10 in your online store, you never know, if you treat them right they could refer a friend of theirs who does spend big.

2. Record and Organize Positive Feedback 

There will always be the customers who want things for free or complain about everything, most of the time its best to ignore this type of feedback.

However, if multiple customers have complained about the same issue, you need to address this problem ASAP so it’s a good idea to have a system in place which records all feedback and checks for re-occurrences. 

3. Avoid Passive-Aggressiveness

Hearing the phrase, " I'm sorry that you are experiencing this issue,” or " I'm sorry you feel this way” is not what angry customers want.

However many small business owners use this sort of language by accident without realizing they sound demeaning or dismissive.Simply say sorry and ask how you might help resolve the issue, even If the customer is being unreasonable. 

4. If You Need to Transfer Them, do so Quickly and Explain Why

Always ensure you briefly explain to a customer why transferring them will be to their benefit, so rather than "Please wait, you are being transferred”, try "You are being transferred to our ____ specialist who can better deal with your issue”

5. Respond as Quickly as Possible

While it’s usually acceptable to wait up to 24 hours for a general inquiry, complaints greatly benefit from being resolved quickly.

The longer an angry customer has to wait for a response, the more likely they are to spread word about their bad experience via word of mouth or social media. 

6. Acknowledge Receipt of Complaints

Ensure your shopping cart is set up to send auto-responders when customers submit feedback / information request forms. Let them likely response times and try to beat these times if possible.

7. Try Not to Sound Overly Corporate

Customers expect to be treated with respect, but if you use overly corporate responses the correspondence can feel false.  Add personalization to your conversations, use first names rather than ‘Mr Jones’. or even worse ‘Dear Customer’ and talk to them like you would an acquaintance rather than an annoying customer you can’t wait to get rid of.

8. Ask Them What They Expect to Resolve the Issue 

If a complaint is genuine and the mistake is on your end you will probably want to offer the customer something by way of an apology, for example a $50 voucher towards their next order.

Instead of offering something upfront involve customers in resolution decision-making by using phrases such as, "What do you think would be fair?”

While some customers will make ridiculous requests (ignore these), this type of question will bring out a reasonable side in most people, and you'll likely get asked for much less than you might have offered if you hadn't asked for their input.

9. Move Customer Away from Social Media

People love to complain on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s not a great place to have long customer complaint conversations and they rarely get anywhere.

Instead, provide customers with an email address they can send their issue to and assure them that you are ready, willing and able to get this problem resolved right way. 

This show the customer and any social media on-lookers that you are prepared to sort out customer issues. 

10. Don’t Take it Personally

Everybody has bad days and quite often we can say things we don’t mean if something upsets / annoys us on one of those bad days. 

No matter how abusive the complaint, NEVER react angrily, you will regret it. Take a deep breath and respond with an apology (no matter how hard it it!) and try to resolve their problem. Most abusive customers will want to get a rise out of you and if they don’t they may just move onto trying to upset somebody else.

I would love to hear your customer complaint stories, have you converted an angry customer into a happy one? How did you do it? What methods do you find most effective?

Happy Selling!

Gareth Sales
VPASP Shopping Cart


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