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Why do Consumers' Complain?

It’s not what I expected!

It took longer than I was expecting!

I felt that they ignored me!

The service I received made me feel my issues were insignificant….

In our experience expectations and emotions often dictate the customer journey more so than issues with the products themselves and, in our experience, businesses are quite not as good as dealing with the expectations at the outset and managing the emotional response when things do not go according to plan.

Expectations are often driven by factors which are outside the control of the business. For example, personal standards, upbringing, press coverage and personal preferences for information and detail can be as important as the manner in which the product was sold.

Emotional responses can be categorised as ranging from anger and discontent to disappointment, self-pity and anxiety and these are driven by a variety of factors.

That is why:

a scratch to you...is a crevasse to a Customer

a small stain to you...is a huge aberration to a Customer

a “few” days more to you... can feel like a lifetime to a Customer

So what are the key ingredients of successful complaint management?

Empathy enables you to see the world from the point of view of your customer and communicate that understanding effectively to them.

Rapport builds upon this commonality focussing attention on the customer as an individual, not just a reference number.

Trust is then built out of the demonstration of empathy and establishment of rapport and is the foundation for all aspects of successful customer relationship management.

Make a resolution you can keep – Recognise that it is possible to turn a negative reaction into a positive experience for your customer, placing a commitment to excellent customer service at the heart of your business and ensuring that your staff are trained to achieve this aim.

It is difficult to negotiate when neither party trusts each other, therefore, when customers contact you to report a problem, taking the time to empathise and build rapport will enable you to develop a foundation of trust from which to better resolve the issues you both face.

There are many techniques which could be used to help put this into practice. Some simple advice is simply to avoid making promises you know you cannot keep. But how do you say No without using the word itself and how do you know that it is right to say No in the first place?

At Dispute Resolution Ombudsman and the Furniture & Home Improvement Ombudsman, we offer a range of training to assist you in dealing with your customers in a positive way, managing the emotional responses and giving you a standpoint from which you will be better placed to address the practical issues that you want to get right for your customers. Our City & Guilds accredited two-day course focusses on the consumer’s legal entitlement and how to approach the consumer, recognising their emotional reactions and communication preferences to manage the complaint and prevent it escalating into a dispute.

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