The last couple of months have been very frustrating. We are partners with MYOB and over the last 4 years, have paid them a significant amount of money. As partners, we were supposed to get support, help and have an account manager who keeps in touch with us. This never actually happened. However, as we had a number of clients using MYOB, we just put up and paid.
As the number of clients using MYOB reduced, we started asking MYOB to review their charges and started a complaint for not receiving the service they charged us for and were continuing to charge for. They never dealt with the complaint properly or even felt it was necessary to return our calls. On the last discussion I had with MYOB, we were basically told we could give one month’s notice and leave. So guess what, this week I wrote a letter to MYOB doing exactly that.
But that got me thinking.
How should a business deal with complaints?
As a business owner there will always be a time you have to deal with a complaint of some kind. How you deal with it could result in you salvaging the situation or a customer leaving you forever – sometimes on bad terms.
When you consider that an ex-customer will tell on average 6-10 people how bad you are, the effect on your brand could be significant. In my case, I am telling the world how bad my experience is. As Australia’s Number 1 Business Growth Strategist, the owner of a bookkeeping and accountancy practice, the chances of me recommending MYOB is probably quite low. I will tell many experience though.
Every business I know has always had a customer that no matter what you do everything just goes wrong. It has happened to me, too. In these cases, you just try your best so that even if they do leave, you leave on the best possible terms.
I undertake surveys often. The ones that say we are brilliant are great but the ones where the response is mixed or if a complaint comes through are the ones that catch my attention first.
I am always looking to improve so if I know what my customer frustrations are, I can address them and make changes to my business for the better. It also means I can fix the issue so the complaining customer actually becomes a satisfied customer.
So what is the best way to deal with a complaint?
1. Accept the complaint and apologise
If you want to keep the customer, always remember the customer is always right. A customer does not really give a damn about you or the issues you are having so avoid making excuses. If they have a point, accept that they are right and say ‘Sorry’. This sounds easy but your ego might get in the way. The most important thing to do is just listen. Don’t argue – it’s what they expect. Often times, customers just want to be heard.
Some customers are just hard to deal with and you might need to ask if you really want them as a customer. Even if you lose a customer, you still want to make a good last impression because your reputation is more important than the last sale.
2. Try to fix the problem – as quickly as you can
Customers just want you to fix their problem quickly. If you can do that, they quickly forget about the problem because they are expecting to have an argument. If you receive a complaint in writing, then it is vital that you respond quickly. Customers get most frustrated when they are ignored. Having set guarantees will also help you. I have a rule that we will always give a full money back guarantee – no questions asked.
3. Now Exceed What Your Customer Expects
Sometimes the above two is done. But the customer still feels a bit unhappy. You see, a complaint can be an opportunity. It is an opportunity to show off your customer service skills. Send a gift or a discount voucher or an opportunity to use your goods or services for free in the future.
I once had a long term client where things didn’t quite go to plan. We sent a bunch of flowers to his home and his wife convinced him to remain with us.
This is where the real skill in handling complaints lies. If you acknowledge, apologise and fix the problem, then you have only done what is expected. To get a future order from a customer who has complained, you need to do that little bit extra.