Customer complaints can quickly turn to disasters in the business world. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social media sites can cause havoc, damaging the reputation of a business in an instant. For this reason, a number of companies are now radically rethinking the way that they deal with customer complaints. Here are our top tips on how to react to a customer complaint:

1.      Always Apologise: This may seem straightforward, but it is something that many businesses forget. Although to you the issue may seem small, it could have potentially had a large impact on the customer. For this reason, apologising is the first thing that you should do. If you apologise it will make the business appear more human and, if you’re sincere, you can get the customer back on side.

Empathy and understanding are essential in resolving customer complaints. If you’re able to understand and resolve a customer’s problems while empathising with them, it is likely that they will shop with you again. For this reason, you should see a complaint as a second chance to get things right. Try to think of service standards as much as possible.

2.    Act Immediately with an Actual Human Being: Nowadays, most companies respond to complaints through automated emails. Although this has the benefit of giving the customer an immediate reply, it appears impersonal and, often, the complaint goes no further, resulting in further anger.

For this reason, make sure a staff member replies within a maximum of 48 hours. It is usually best to do this over the phone and, if you use a company like Lanonyx, you can get software that records and logs calls, thus meaning that you’ll never miss a complaint. Customers appreciate the personal touch and this makes it easier to diffuse the situation.

3.   Make Sure You’re Across Social Media: Social media is a great tool for businesses but, as British Gas will tell you, it can also become a PR nightmare. Make sure that your business has a Twitter and Facebook account, but also make sure they are regularly monitored. Remember that if someone complains, the rest of the world can see. Immediately ask them to ring you so that you can diffuse the situation.

4.      Use It As An Opportunity To Learn And Grow: All businesses will encounter problems and complaints happen almost daily. No businesses will ever run without any form of complaint. The best businesses, however, learn from their mistakes to ensure that they do not repeat them. For this reason, it is best to keep a log of complaints and hold regular meetings to review them. If you involve all of your staff in this meeting, then they can all review the situation and suggest alternative ways that the situation could have been handled.

All of these little hints and tips should revolutionise the way that you deal with customer complaints. If you take these hints on board, you should improve your brand image and lower the number of complaints you receive, boosting your business.