A customer complains — loudly and publicly — about an experience he had with your business. You’re wringing your hands in despair. Doesn’t this complaint mean bad news for your company? Don’t worry; if you handle customer complaints in the right way, they not only can be turned around to make that specific customer happy, but they can even help you increase sales. Let’s look at some examples. #1. Yelp: Business Killer or Sales Tool? These days, to find a great restaurant or services business in town, all one has to do is hop online to review sites like Yelp. Positive reviews are great for your company, but what about negative ones? When a customer leaves a negative review about your restaurant, you have two choices: Ignore it Deal with it By dealing with it publicly (offer an apology and chance for customer to come back for free), other visitors to your Yelp page can see that you’re a business that cares what customers think, and will fix problems. Customers keep coming! Note: It’s important that you actually fix the issue so you don’t continue to have to patch a sinking boat. If complaints are about slow service, make sure your staff is adequate to meet demands. You’ll know if the issue is truly addressed if you don’t continue to get similar complaints in Yelp reviews. #2. Customer Service: An Opportunity to Do More The next example of how you can turn around a negative customer experience centers around your customer service department. A customer complains about your product via your customer chat feature on your website. In an ideal situation, your customer service team is empowered to make the situation right, and fully refunds the purchase. Your customer service employee also gives the customer a coupon for another purchase to encourage her to come back. The key here is using that “the customer is always right” adage. Apologize immediately and sincerely. There’s no purpose in trying to determine whether the company or the customer is at fault in the situation. Just assume you’re in the wrong, and make sure your staff is able to refund or replace a product without having to put the customer on hold to get approval from a manager. By making the customer feel validated in her complaint and amending the situation, you resolve her issue and kept her as a customer. Note: That sincerity is extremely important. While customer service chat won’t relay as much in terms of sympathy as a phone call will, it’s important in both situations to make the customer believe that your rep genuinely is apologetic for the situation. #3. Social Media: Helping or Hindering Your Sales Process? This time, someone says something derogatory about your brand on Twitter. Thousands of people see the tweet. If you’re paying attention to social messaging, you can catch this quickly and respond. This is a function of having social media monitoring tools in place so that when there is a mention of your brand, you can see it and respond to it instantly. The simple way to do this is to set up a search for your brand name in a social media management platform like HootSuite and have your customer service or marketing department monitor it. Now that you’re aware of the unhappy customer’s comment on Twitter, ask what specific issues the person had with your brand. Offer to fix the situation immediately. You may need to send a direct message to exchange contact information, but other than that, your interaction should be public for others to see. The reason for this? When people only see the negative comment on Twitter, they don’t get the full story. You want them to see what you’re doing to amend the situation. Note: Social media is a fantastic channel for customer service, so consider investing resources to managing customer issues there. Customer complaints are often inevitable, but if you handle them properly, they can turn into the opportunity to continue selling to existing customers, as well as pick up new ones. Images: ”Complaints File Showing Complaint Reports And Records / Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.