We have a great organization. Our products and services are excellent. But even we sometimes let our customers down.  How do we deal with a  complaining customer? How can we be the role model? How do we lead?

To lead is important when it comes to responding to complaining customers. LEAD stands for Listen, Empathize, Act, and Demonstrate follow up.

  • Listen to the customer. Focus your attention and remove yourself from everything going on around you and give your customer your 100% undivided attention. Ask questions to seek understanding and to clarify what the customer means, needs, and wants. Be patient.
  • Empathize.  Customers need validation that what they feel is “normal”.  Imagining how a customer feels about a situation (frustrated, disappointed, concerned, humiliated, scared, angry, worried, taken-advantage-of, ignored, devalued) is empathy.
  • Act. All customer service must end with some action. Here are some ideas:  the meeting is scheduled promptly, phone call returned quickly, delivery schedule modified, testing expedited, information shared, email sent immediately, contract re-submitted without delay…these actions have a powerful effect on the way the customer feels about your organization, the service, and the people.
  • Demonstrate follow-up. Follow-up demonstrates that you care that the customer’s expectations or needs have been met and you did not forget about the customer’s concern. A quick phone call or an email can demonstrate follow-up. 

If you have a system in place for responding to complaining customers you can lead your industry in delivering great customer service. Most organizations want to minimize their time with complainers. Instead, I suggest that you maximize the relationship by listening, empathizing, acting, and demonstrating follow through.

Watch Kit Welchlin’s keynote presentation on customer service for more helpful tips and techniques. Check back to Welchlin.com every Monday for a new video blog.