14% of the time you or I do not return to the average place of business is because of unadjusted complaints. It is important to teach your employees how to handle complaints because complaints can even gain additional business as well as save business.
I’ve had the occasion to complain about the meal in a restaurant expecting the server to do very little about it, and to my surprise find out there was no charge for the meal, an apology by the Manager and a gift certificate for another time. In this specific case I made it a point to utilise the gift certificate and bring two other couples with me. I’ve also told dozens of friends about the restaurant.
Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! Preparation!
If I were to let you know what a client’s problem, concern, question, objection or complaint was going to be two days in advance of meeting her, you could easily handle the situation. The reason why, would be cause you had time to prepare and come up with some answers. In my opinion complaint handling is about being prepared. It is much like handling objections. We suggest you use this 6 Point Process to Handling Complaints and Objections.
Implement the following 6 Point Process for Handling Complaints and Objections and you will handle most objections, problems, complaints, questions, scenarios and situations with ease.
- Identify the various “Pivot Points” in your business where customers and clients come in contact with the “People Who Handle The Traffic” in your business. Identify the people who are at those pivot points. (Pivot points could be receiving internal phone calls, making outbound calls, delivering goods, front counter, receptionist, outside visits to businesses etc.)
- Brainstorm with your colleagues all the possible problems, concerns, complaints, objections, questions, situations, scenarios, challenges and hurdles that you’ve had in the past, are having now or could have in the future.
- Take this list and prioritise them from the most common to the least common.
- Then brainstorm 4 to 5 Solutions and Answers for each one of these complaints, objections, questions, situations, concerns and problems etc.
- Build a list of the complaints/objections and then put the solutions, answers, or responses for each complaint/objection under each complaint/objection. Post them where you can see them. Carry them in your Planner, on your Tablet/Smartphone or on your Laptop or put them in a Complaint/Objection Handling Guide.
- Review them regularly. If you are a sales or service manager or business owner continually test your team and give small rewards for the right answers. You could have “complaint of the day” or “objection of the day” at your meetings. You must keep the answers at the top of your mind and on the tip of your tongue…that takes practise.
Following are two examples taken from our Objection Handling Guide with 103 Common Objections & Responses that account executives and salespeople may receive from a client. The examples are Objection #16: “We’ve Had Bad Service In The Past With One Of Your Divisions” (Electronic Security) and Objection #17: “We Had A Bad Experience In The Past With Your Division” (Electronic Security). These were originally part of an Objection / Complaint Handling Guide I built for an Electronic Security client.
16. “We’ve Had Bad Service In The Past With One Of Your Other Divisions” (Electronic Security)
16.1 I feel like I’ve come in halfway through a sports game and don’t know what happened in the first half. Can you fill me in on what happened?
16.2 Even though I have no control over another Division of Electronic Security Inc. … I must apologise, because I’m part of Electronic Security Inc. even though we run separately as units. I’d be interested to know what happened. Would you be kind enough to tell me?
16.3 As you probably know we work literally as separate businesses but I must apologise for whatever was done that upset you or inconvenienced you. If you were to work with us what would be your expectations of being treated properly.
16.4 Besides the experience with Division A of Electronic Security Inc. what else is it that might prevent you from considering our services?
16.5 Even though you had a bad experience with Division A, what is it that we’d need to do to gain your confidence?
16.6 Please share with me what happened!
Client: Here is what happened …. Etc. etc.
Marketer: Here is what we do to prevent these kinds of things happening in our Division.
16.7 I’d really not want to see you lose out on a service that is helping many clients create a better bottom line because of an experience with another Division of Electronic Security Inc. Can I take a few minutes to show what we do and how you can be assured of excellent service and real tangible savings and increases in security while still giving you a better bottom line.
17. “We Had A Bad Experience In The Past With Your Division” (Electronic Security)
17.1 I’m sorry, tell me what happened. How long ago was it? Who were you dealing with? Client: Explains
Marketer: Based on what you’ve told me … I’d say you’ve been kind to me. I think if I had that experience as a client I would’ve been more upset than you. Look, I’m sincere about doing a good job and having you as a happy client. What can I do to help re-establish a relationship with you?
17.2 In the past I can understand how this happened. The procedure that now prevents this kind of problem coming up is this. (Describe the procedure)
17.3 Things have changed with us. Here are several recent quotes from our clients.
17.4 Would you agree that the people you deal with in a company make the difference? Client: Yes
Marketer: This time I’d be the one in charge and here is how I work with clients to ensure they see the real benefits they pay for.
17.5 I can relate to and hear what you are saying and certainly understand your position in reference to us. At the same time I think you’d agree with me that some of the best relationships you have with some clients got off on the wrong foot. Then you were able to correct it and ended up with a happy client. I’d like that opportunity to show you what we can really do and correct the past with excellent service in the future. Will you be so kind as to at least allow me to present how things work now?
17.6 That’s why I want to review this checklist with you. It will clarify how we do business now.
Note: Personally I believe every company should have an Objection Handling and/or Complaint Handling Guide made up of examples like the two examples above.
I’ve also listed several additional ideas to help insure that complaints, objections and difficult situations are handled in such a way that a business loses a minimum number of customers:
- Get written authority from your manager to do certain things when handling complaints/objections or at least guidelines you agree with.
- Give customers a few options.
- Ask customers how they’d like you to handle the complaint or situation. If their suggestion is reasonable, Do It!
- Don’t say, “what is the problem?” say “what is the situation?” or “let’s look at the situation.”
- Let customers ventilate before using logic. They won’t listen until they calm down a bit. Validate how they feel.
- Show respect to the complaining customer by going to get a manager or the owner. It makes them feel more respected. Volunteer to do that before they suggest it.
I trust this blog article will help make the handling of objections and complaints much easier.
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Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is www.bill-gibson.com and his website is www.kbitraining.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbill or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/knowledgebrokers?ref=hl