Every business, big or small, is bound to get its share of testy customers from time to time.
This is especially so in Singapore, where a recent survey by iPrice showed shoppers here are quite the champion when it comes to complaining. Of all the complaints collected by the online shopping aggregator, 34.7% were filed by Singaporeans, who on average complain 20% more frequently than Thais.
Younger Singaporeans are also more demanding towards their online shopping experience, with those aged 20 years and under 13% more likely than those aged between 25 and 30 to give poor ratings when reviewing products online.
Getting complaints is something every business should expect, and some complaints can actually be constructive, as it forces you to review your business or service and improve on it.
The key in dealing with such grievances is in taking the right perspective. A complaint, however bad, is in fact an opportunity for you to build a relationship with your customer. In particular, if your business is done entirely online, you would rarely get to interact directly with your shoppers. Such a situation then provides the opportunity to show that your business is one that values and cares for every customer. Handling the situation well can create loyal customers for you.
Five common customer complaints:
1. “I did not receive my order on time!”
Look into what went wrong in the delivery process. If it is an error committed by your delivery service, you may want to speak with its representative to iron out the issue and prevent this from happening again.
You should also let your customer know the root cause of the delay, and assure him or her that this is a one-off situation, and that you have taken constructive steps to ensure it would not happen again. You can also offer free shipping off next purchase as a gesture of goodwill.
2. “My online transaction can't go through.”
Check that the payment links on your website are working, and if necessary, let your payment vendor know about the issue. If the problem is on the customer’s side, gently inform him that he may need to contact his card issuer for assistance.
Provide an alternative payment method for this transaction if possible; doing so can help ease your customer’s fustration and allow him to make his purchase quickly while you, your payment vendor or the card issuer looks into the problem.
3. “My order came in the wrong size!” or “I received the wrong/damaged product!”
The ideal way to handle such a problem would be to apologise for the error, then arrange for quick delivery of the correct product for free. You may also want to check if there are gaps in your sorting and despatch process that caused the wrong item to be sent to your customer. And while it can be difficult to ensure none of your products has defects, by conducting quality checks more often, you can help prevent such mistakes from occurring in future.
4. “What I received looks nothing like what I saw online!”
This is a common problem for many ecommerce stores that do not have any physical outlets, and shoppers have no way of knowing what the products looks like in person until after they have made their purchase.
Let your customer know that while you try your best to accurately showcase your products on your website, they can occasionally look different in person. It would also be helpful if your website clearly states this in its terms and conditions. If possible, offer an exchange or a discount code for future purchases.
5. “No one is responding to my queries!”
Check all your communication channels, be it email, your website’s live chat, Facebook or Instagram, and respond immediately. Apologise for the late response and explain that while your company tries its best to swiftly follow up on customer queries, the occasional message does fall between the cracks, and that you would take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
As the adage goes, the customer is king. If it is a mistake you made, admit it, apologise, and provide a remedy. If it is not your error and something that happened outside the realm of your control, gently let your customer know this, and then give workable solutions. A customer will feel valued if he knows you’re going the extra mile to help him solve a problem that you did not cause.
How you address your customer is important. Never take a brusque, annoyed or condescending tone. If he is a particularly irate one, responding in aggravation will not bring about a fruitful outcome, and can even harm your business’ reputation. Instead, stay calm and composed and address the situation head on.
As with all relationships, the one you have with your consumers also requires trust, and this is built by active and positive communication with them. By making the transaction a rewarding one, your customer can walk away a satisfied one.