You, I, customers, employees, people, we are DIFFICULT! Employee conflict and customer complaints are something that occurs on a regular basis in any company, this blog is going to describe how to respond to complaints and give you a few handy tips to help with them. These have been tried and tested over and over again in my very own companies.
Dealing With Customer Complaints
Which organisation springs to mind when I say ‘poor customer complaints’?
We’ve all had to deal with companies that have their conflict management techniques SO wrong. Let’s not be one of those companies!
Responding over a keyboard or letter is so much easier right? It’s often far simpler to deal with customer complaints in this way because you can take a step back. It helps you take any emotion out of it and respond rationally and calmly.
So how do you write a killer response?
Let’s describe how to respond to complaints, take a look at our conflict management techniques below:
1. Summarise the situation
Start off on a positive note, it’s important to do this considering the customer is already not very happy with your company!
Summarise their complaint, thank them for making you aware of the issue and let them know that you value their business.
Make your customers complaints feel heard and understood. Of course an apology is always good, even when your company is not at fault.
The purpose of doing this is to build rapport with your customers and to make them feel that their opinion matters.
3. A Solution
We love it when a company goes above and beyond to help ease our annoyance, so what is your organisation going to do about the fact that Mrs Jones’ bird feeder has turned up broken?!
Maybe you need a little more information. Images of the damaged product or order numbers. Once you’ve received these, offer a solution to their complaint. Let your customer know what you will do to help and when.
Sure, every company has company policies that they abide by, but I have personally found that when we go above and beyond for our customers, offering a replacement product or part of a product (of course keep costs down where you can) it has often concluded in repeat buying and positive reviews.
Dealing with conflict in the workplace
Phwoar, a whole new kettle of fish!
People are difficult, imperfect and often irrational so how do you deal with that one person in the office you just butt heads with?
Having previously managed a consulting business, I was occasionally considered the “bossy” one who had to grab the bull by the horns and pester people until they got things done. This sometimes meant I wasn’t the most liked in the office!
Let me give you a few conflict management techniques in the workplace that have worked in the past for me.
1. Forget being “right”
A difficult one but trust me the only win when it comes to conflict is a result that ends in deescalation, a new compromise or common ground and a resolution.
Viewing the other team or person as an opposition will only create workplace rifts, waste company time and cause friction for those around you.
Conflict can be a great thing when approached in the right way, it can highlight expectations, bring better insights to your clients/teams wants and needs and show communication styles.
These when approached in the right way can help you armour up and achieve the best outcome for your client and team.
2. Meet face to face
As much as you want to stick behind that keyboard of yours, an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting helps you sort out that office spat SO much quicker.
Communicating behind a screen means communication breakdowns, and when your colleague takes your “funny” joke the wrong way and hits you back with a “kk” you’ll definitely wish you met in person!
Meeting in person means body language, visual cues and tones can be communicated correctly which can help you reach a conclusion quicker.
Another handy tip is having a third-party present, if this is about to get emotional and heated, having someone who can mediate and de-escalate can be super helpful.
3. Kiss and Make Up
This is the time to take a risk and listen to the other parties’ feelings and echo them back to them, making them feel understood and that you are willing to listen.
Communication is the key to conflict management techniques, and it is important to show that you are not only good at communicating an issue (the easy bit) but also that you are a good listener which opens up avenues to deal with issues in the future more easily.
This is also your time to admit fault, whether you feel you did something wrong or not.
Evaluating our own behaviour and admitting our own flaws, although not fun, is essential to building that bridge back up when responding to complaints!
Evaluating our own behaviours also opens up communication, and helps others evaluate their own behaviour which can create a strong, safe, proactive team culture. #ConflictManagementTweet
So, if you’ve come across my blog because you’ve found yourself questioning how to tackle your customer complaints or issues within your workforce, take these tips to the office tomorrow and watch a healthy, safe, productive culture flourish!
I’d love you to get in contact and let me know what works for you and your workforce.