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How to Handle a Complaint

How to Handle a Complaint

How to Handle a Complaint

It is important that all your staff are trained in handling customer complaints.

Here is the six-step method to use when handling a complaint:

1. Listen without interruption.

2. Empathise with their feelings.

3. Question them to isolate the facts from the feelings.

4. Answer the factual objection to the best of your knowledge, complying with company policy and the law.

5. Confirm understanding.

6. Change the subject.

Six-Step System for Handling Objections

Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People : How to Handle a Complaint

Step one: Listen without interruption - Hear them out

Listen to the person without interruption.

Let them "Get things off their chest".

Step two: Reflect their position back to them

Restate their position and reflect back their emotions.

Memorise and use the phrase, "I understand you feel [description] and I want to help, so would you let me ask you a few questions?"

Empathise how they are feeling.

You must show empathy without necessarily showing any agreement.

Step three: Question down

Now you need to ask questions to discover the underlying facts.

You need to separate facts from the feelings, facts from the opinions, facts from accusations.

Your task is to narrow the objection to the "one most important thing".

You need to isolate the objection.

Step four: Answer their point to the best of your knowledge

Give them the best answer that the facts, your knowledge and your organisation will allow.

They must understand what your answer is. (Be clear).

They must understand the reasons for your answer. (Be rational).

Step five: Confirm agreement / understanding

Ensure that the person agrees with your answer.

People will either agree with you or not.

If they don't agree, or understand, return to step one.

And take them once more around the cycle.

If when they do agree, then move to step six.

Step six: Change the subject (or close the conversation)

The moment you have an agreement, change the subject.

Ask a reflex question.

A reflex question is a question they can answer easily and has the effect of changing the subject.

You need to develop three or four reflex questions that you can ask, whenever you need to change the focus of a conversation off the current topic.

Start with the phrase, "By the way, just for my notes what ...

  • Is your direct line phone number?"
  • Do you have a middle name or initial?"
  • What is your work postcode?" 

Once you have an agreement on the minor objection, change the subject.

Do not keep talking about a problem after you have resolved it.

Further reading: Delivering Effective Customer Service (Blog).

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