Friday, September 16, 2011

Show Complainers Respect, Concern, & Empathy

Customers who feel they’re treated fairly when they complain tend to become more loyal to your store. They develop gratitude for the high quality resolution and often a bit of guilt for making a fuss. Researchers at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy found that as this guilt about complaints develops because of the retailer’s fair treatment, the customer’s amount of negative word-of-mouth dips.
     In making use of this finding, it’s important for you to realize what produces perceptions of fairness:
  • Fairness of outcomes. Ask the complainer, “What do you suggest I do to make things right?” Then see how close you can come to delivering that. When you redirect the conversation from argument to teamwork, the request for corrective action can be both feasible and equitable.
     Still, the reality is that sometimes the complainer’s request is neither. There are customers around who extort retailers by using complaints. These customers make unreasonable demands under threat that unresolved complaints, justified or not, will go viral on internet social networking sites. Stand firm against consumers who extort retailers by using unjust complaints.
  • Fairness of procedures. Establish complaint-handling policies consistent with the personality you want your store to project. Use those policies to generate procedures which are easily understood by your staff. Then train your staff in following the procedures. Include in your performance evaluation of each employee how well they handle customer complaints.
     Even with this, though, there will be times the customer’s irritation prevents them from understanding and appreciating the fairness of the procedures.
  • Fairness of interpersonal interactions. Treat each shopper in your store with respect, concern, and empathy.
     Classic research at Tulane University indicates that even when a complaining customer considers the outcome and the procedures unfair, the customer will still be satisfied if they perceive fairness in the interpersonal interactions. This turns out to be especially true when the complaint is about services, and store-based retailers do all provide services. Although the customer might be coming for the product, the purchase usually includes consulting and delivering. Some retailers—such as appliance repair shops and travel advisors—primarily sell services, with any dollars that result from product sales perhaps being almost an afterthought.
     Researchers from Chinese University of Hong Kong and Fudan University in China found that empathy toward customers influenced satisfaction to a greater extent than did service outcome factors, such how well the clothes dryer works after being repaired or if the cruise ship vacation met expectations.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Resolve Customer Complaints Carefully
Accentuate the Positive Customer Feedback
Get Second Chance for Good Impression
Ease Customer Anger at Delivery Delays
Emphasize Empathy in Providing Services

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