Listen carefully: Give your customers plenty of time to express themselves. *MCT photo
Listen carefully: Give your customers plenty of time to express themselves. *MCT photo

I recently read an article on Forbes.com about customer service, written by Micah Solomon, who is a renowned customer service speaker, customer experience consultant, author, and Forbes contributor. 

 “Learn to apologize. Things will go wrong. (Things will go right and yet customers will perceive them to be wrong — it’s the same thing.)”, said Mr. Solomon in his article.

 He added: “Prepare for this, emotionally as well as operationally.” 

We here at Consumer Affairs deal with a lot of complaints that potentially could have been avoided if the business had simply addressed the problem by apologizing to the complaining customer as soon as they realized there was a problem. 

As the saying goes, “to err is human”. 

We all make mistakes, and sometimes we don’t but someone will think we did. 

In business, complaints are par for the course, how you handle them can save you time, money and most importantly, customers — as difficult as apologizing is, do it right away. 

Attempt to fix a problem as soon as possible.

Start by simply saying “I’m sorry”, it can quickly get you out of the ‘doghouse’ in most instances. 

Apologizing also has the added benefit of earning you respect. 

Once you have apologized, you can then begin to try and sort out the problem, if a simple apology doesn’t fix it. 

Here are four key steps to help resolve customer complaints.

Communicate

Every complaining customer should be able to have their complaint heard and responded to in a timely manner. 

Whether the complaint is in person, by phone, via e-mail or on social network, do not ignore your customers — they have so many ways to get the word out about you. If you treat them well the word they get out there about you will be good instead of bad.

Listen Carefully

Give your customers plenty of time to express themselves. 

Let them tell you what they believe is wrong and get all of the facts so that you can fully understand the issue. Letting them talk also gives them an opportunity to calm down.

Follow Up 

Do what you say you will, when you say you will, how you say you will and check back with the customer to find out if they were satisfied. Document the results.

Contact Consumer Affairs 

If you are having a problem with a customer and you cannot work out an acceptable solution, please contact Consumer Affairs for assistance and guidance.

Every business should learn to apologize and not be afraid of dealing with customer complaints. 

It is also good to have a structured complaint management system in place — one that all of your staff are familiar with and receive training on. 

At Consumer Affairs, we offer guidance to consumers, businesses and other organizations. Before contacting us, we recommend that you first visit our web-site, www.ca.gov.bm and read the relevant information. If you are unable to find the information you require on our website, please email us at consumers@gov.bm.

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.