A good business tries to minimise customer complaints through excellent customer service, and address customer complaints about the business, or a product or service quickly and fairly. Although prevention is better than cure, it is almost inevitable that, at some stage, you personally will receive customer complaints. When undertaking a hospitality traineeship you will learn important customer complaint negotiation skills.
Don’t assume that a customer complaint is a negative experience because, if handled well, it can be a valuable asset. A customer complaint is one of the best opportunities you have for turning an unhappy customer into a loyal customer. Even the most dissatisfied customer can become an ambassador, winning new customers for your business by word-of-mouth advertising.
Whether you win or lose customers can depend on the way you handle their complaints. So make it easy for customers to complain, welcome customer complaints and deal with complaints promptly.
Dealing with Complaints
When a customer has a genuine complaint, thank them for raising the matter with you. Treat them with genuine empathy, courtesy, patience, honesty and fairness.
Try to respond to the complaint quickly. Tell the customer how you will handle it and when to expect a response.
Speak to the customer in person. Do not rely on written complaints or records of conversations.
To show that you clearly understand their complaint:
- Familiarise yourself with any background information before you speak to them, check internal records, speak to staff and check how their version of events compares with the customer’s
- Listen carefully and do not jump to conclusions, lay blame or become defensive
- Ask questions to clarify the situation
- Summarise back to the customer your understanding of the problem
Once you take the complaint details, tell the customer what will happen next. If possible, nominate one staff member to manage the complaint until it is resolved. Ensure that this staff member has the authority to organise solutions that the customer will accept.
Adopt a solution-focused approach by actively involving the customer in this process. Ensure you take all promised actions as promptly as possible.
When you find a solution, tell the customer and check if they are happy with the resolution. Tell them how you will prevent the problem from arising again.
Obtaining a Certificate III in Hospitality is an excellent way of learning how to confidently deal with customer complaints.