First and foremost, your customers are looking to the companies they rely on for guidance and clarity in uncertain times (ie. COVID-19 pandemic.) And, the best way to calm anxiety and nerves is to communicate periodically to keep them informed. Find out the most common types of customer complaints and how you can resolve them. You can even prevent them from happening in the first place!
Customer complaints are like death and taxes—they’re inevitable if you’re going to be in business. That’s certainly true when you have plenty of customers, as you can expect a certain percentage of them to come up with complaints about your products and services. The more customers you have, the more complaints you will receive.
Tips On How To Handle Customer Complaints
The key to dealing with customer complaints is to manage expectations. Either you meet what your customers expect, or you manage to convince customers not to expect too much and to accept your limitations. You can expect complaints when customers expect a flawless product and you deliver the item with slight imperfections. But it’s a different story when they know you’re giving them a flawed item.
So here are some typical customer complaints that you can expect your way, and tips on how to handle them. If you do it right, you can even keep the complaints from happening in the first place!
“Where’s The Item I Ordered?”
This is one of the more common complaints, and it underscores the importance of delivering on time. However, complaints aren’t limited to cases when the item comes late to their doorstep. Sometimes, customers complain because they’re not sure that the item will arrive on time. In some cases, they’re not even sure it will arrive at all.
The best way to deal with this issue and to keep the complaints to a minimum is to offer to track so the customers will be aware of the progress of their order. They’ll know that the item is on the way, and they can see for themselves when the item is likely to arrive on their doorstep.
If you’re a Shopify store owner, this kind of option is very easy to offer. You can just drop in the tracking number when you’re fulfilling the order. You can also add an Order Status page to your Shopify store.
You can use a convenient app like Tracktor, which is supported by hundreds of carriers around the world. It provides full delivery updates, plus a real-time map on the Order Status page the customer can check out.
If you’re shipping through USPS, you don’t need the Tracktor app. You’re already able to offer live updates for customers, with a map on the Order Status page showing where the item currently is located.
These methods enable customers to anticipate and accept delays when they see the progress of the delivery. But what if the customer ordered something that was actually out of stock? You need to keep this from happening in the first place, and you can do that with certain apps.
You can try using an app like Notify Me for your Shopify store. It lets customers get a notification when the out-of-stock item they really want becomes available again. Another app you can consider is Wipeout. This automatically removes out-of-stock items from your display, so customers aren’t frustrated by their unavailability of the products they want.
“This Isn’t the Right Color or Size!”
It’s easy enough to understand how irate customers can be when they buy furniture with the wrong dimensions. If it’s too big, then it may not fit in the space they’ve reserved for it.
It’s also frustrating for customers when they wait a long while for shoes or clothes and they find that what they got doesn’t fit them.
The same problem can also occur with the look of the item, especially with fashion items. Fashionistas believe in the “what you see is what you get” principle, as they want to wear the colors they ordered in the first place.
What this means for you is that you realize the absolute importance of providing utterly accurate product descriptions. You need to give out precise dimensions, sizing, colors, and materials. You have to be very transparent.
This is especially true for clothes and shoes, which may not run true to size. You should enable reviews and social media feeds to let customers know that a particular brand’s idea of “XL” is the same as what they had in mind.
You can add customer reviews to your product pages with the right apps, such as Yotpo and Product Reviews. The Like2Have.it Shopify app can also be used to drop a shoppable Instagram widget on your site.
“I Can’t Figure Out Your Website!”
Your website is like your real-world store, and you need to care for it the same way. It has to be clean and neat, and customers should easily find their way around.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure you can satisfy both PC users and smartphone shoppers. Then you have to make sure that your pages don’t take too long to load. If it takes more than a few seconds for a customer to see the page, they’re liable to just give up.
Make sure you also have your contact details prominently displayed on the site, especially if your website is a marketing platform for your brick-and-mortar store. You have to display your address and location on a map, the days and times you’re open, your phone number and email address, and your various social media links.
The 3 Templates for Responding to Customer Complaints
These are the 3 standard strategies for dealing with complaints:
- Be proactive. When you realize that something is wrong with a customer’s order, fix it, and then tell the customer about it. Do this even before they haven’t complained yet.
- Apologize and fix the problem. If you do get a complaint, you can say sorry and then offer a solution as part of your apology. Acknowledge their frustration and then express hope that you’ve offered a solution that makes everything good between your brand and the customer.
- Acknowledge when you can’t solve the problem. The key here is that you’re unable to solve the problem yet. Apologize, and then take their suggestions regarding a possible solution. Yell the customer you appreciate their input and that you hope they’ll give you another chance.
It can be a bit tempting to just ignore customer complaints, especially when you realize that these people have already paid for the stuff you’re offering. But that’s a very shortsighted perspective. Unsatisfied customers not only stop being customers, but they can badmouth your brand through negative reviews and social media messages.
Satisfying customer complaints, on the other hand, can gain you very loyal customers. It’s not uncommon for some customer reviews to give 5-star ratings just because you handled their customer complaints to their satisfaction.
Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect: firstname.lastname@example.org