You have prepared your beloved coffee with pleasure. You opened your computer and checked your inbox, but what’s this? A client you work with has sent a long email expressing dissatisfaction with the product or service they have been using, and of course, you are the one who needs to respond to this challenging email. What would you do?
First of all, customer complaints are always a situation you will encounter and they are part of our job. Even though you may think that you strive for 100% customer satisfaction in your work, there will inevitably be criticisms or complaints at some point.
After all, in daily life, when a product you use suddenly breaks, one of the first things you do is to send an email to the company’s customer service explaining the situation. The same applies to your clients with whom you work.
So, what should you do?
Emotional Detachment and Initial Response
First and foremost, it is important not to approach the email emotionally while reading it because the issue is not about you personally. The issue revolves around your client’s dissatisfaction with the product or service they have been using. However, if you realize that you cannot control your emotions and believe that it might unintentionally affect your response, I recommend taking a short break from the computer and engaging in something else until you are sure that your emotions have subsided. Then, re-read the email calmly.
Identifying the Real Problem
Try to identify the real problem. Sometimes, the problem may not be clearly stated, but it is your responsibility to find it. If necessary, make a note of each problem you identify separately. If there are any areas that you do not understand, politely ask your customer for clarification.
Understanding Customer Expectations
You also need to understand what the customer wants in response to these problems. It could be a repair, a refund, a simple explanation, or an apology. Of course, you should be familiar with your company’s procedures and how they handle such requests. If the customer is requesting a refund, for example, but your company’s procedure is to offer a product replacement, you should explain this in an appropriate manner.
Timely Response and Acknowledgment
Do not leave your client’s complaint email unanswered for an extended period. If you believe that you cannot understand and resolve the issue promptly, I recommend sending a reply stating that you have understood the problem but need some time to respond. This way, you buy yourself some time, and your client feels that their complaint has been acknowledged. Remember, one of the key aspects here is that your client needs to feel heard.
Providing Clear Solutions
If you have some solutions at hand, that’s great! Now, you need to explain them as concisely and clearly as possible. List your solutions separately for each problem. Give an approximate timeline for resolving each issue. Mention any potential difficulties your client might experience during this process. Most importantly, show that you take ownership of the problem as if you are experiencing it yourself.
Escalation and Delegation
In some cases, the issue may not fall within your expertise, and you may need to forward it to another person or department. In such situations, send a brief email explaining why the matter needs to be directed to someone else.
Closing the Loop
If your client responds with a message like “My problem has been resolved, thank you!” congratulations. Is our job done? No. First, record the details of the problem and how you resolved it, including all the steps involved. This could be in your personal agenda or as records kept for each client in your company. Then, take the necessary steps to prevent the same issue from recurring. After all, you wouldn’t want to have a group of customers experiencing the same problem repeatedly. If you have a written procedure regarding customer complaints, make sure to update it as well.