An employment contract provides the parameters for the relationship between an employer and an employee. They also determine the rights...
Policies, Procedures & SafeguardsOctober 13, 2016
No matter how fantastic your customer service standards are, the occasional customer complaint is virtually unavoidable. The rise of online review platforms and social media have created a culture of transparency that, for better or worse, means all employers need to be ready to address customer concerns in a professional manner.
Rather than ignoring negative feedback, employers should view customer complaints as an opportunity to diagnose potential issues in their workplace, and investigate possible solutions. No employer wants to loose repeat business, and word of mouth spreads quickly.
Your staff are the face of your business so it is important all new employees are aware of their responsibilities. Guidelines for communicating with customers should be outlined in the employee handbook, and form part of onboarding and training.
Rewarding employees who provide great customer service is a wonderful way to encourage positive behaviour. Depending on the business type, you might want to encourage positive feedback from customers – online or on the premises – and recognise employees who receive positive reviews. This activity could be incentivised by rewards, or simply by recognition.
Whilst this does not mean that employees should not have free rein to make the big decisions that impact your business, they should feel confident in handling straightforward issues, without having to double check everything with their manager. This comes back to having effective policies and procedures, and ensuring all employees are well trained.
It can be very frustrating for a customer to have to wait for a manager to contact them in regards to a small issue, which realistically could have been dealt with straight away had the employee known the correct response.
Think of your own experience when making a complaint, the longer something is left unresolved, the further it escalates. If a response needs more time to consider, at least let the customer know you have understood their complaint and that you are following up on it.
In the case of online reviews, ensure that someone is monitoring these platforms regularly, including after hours.
Regardless of whether a complaint is legitimate or not, if you have a complaint, you have an unhappy and dissatisfied customer. Don’t forget that a dissatisfied customer has the potential to be very damaging to your brand by telling friends or online communities not to use your products or services.
The best approach here is to start by listening, try to understand what the basis of the complaint is and clarify this with the customer. Next, try to see the situation from the customer’s perspective and understand why they are unhappy, investigating the complaint internally if necessary. Listening and empathising will always produce a better response than arguing and explaining.
Finally, you can offer some sort of resolution to the customer. You could offer a complimentary product depending on the business, but even a genuine apology could be enough to diffuse the situation.
Employers should encourage feedback, both positive and negative, as this provides a valuable learning experience for the business. In cases of negative complaints, it is especially important to discuss these with the team and find out exactly what went wrong. From here, new policies and procedures can be drafted to prevent the same complaint being made again.
The review of customer complaints should be done in a supportive and open environment, because ultimately all reviews provide a valuable opportunity for business and personal growth.
As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, Employsure can assist you with drafting and implementing policies and procedures into your workplace. Call us today on 1300 651 415 of book a Free Workplace Check here.