What are the best complaints handling courses?

What are the best complaints handling courses?

29 Nov 2021

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Customer complaints are inevitable for any business, and how an organisation handles these complaints is crucial in order to maintain a good reputation and to keep client business. In this article we will provide a brief overview for complaints handling, outline the four steps to handling complaints correctly, as well as where to find the best complaints handling courses.

What is complaints handling?

Simply put, customer complaints are feedback received from customers citing a problem with a company’s product or service. A customer handling procedure is a systematic method for receiving, recording and responding to any complaints made by their customers to ensure that any issues are responded to effectively and can be learnt from to improve the effectiveness of an organisation.

The Importance of handling complaints

Emerging technologies, instant access to social media, and the possibility to find or share relevant information has made customers more empowered and educated than ever before. Therefore, the satisfaction of your customers should always be a top priority and is an increasingly essential component of customer service and business success.

Unfortunately even in the best companies, not everything runs smoothly all the time, and on some occasions organisations fall short on what customers expect. It is very difficult to anticipate the wishes and potential needs of every single customer, but it’s essential that you know how to handle any complaints correctly. A customer complaint highlights a problem, whether that's a problem with your product, services, employees or internal processes.

When a proper and effective complaint handling mechanism is in place, you will positively enhance your interaction with customers or clients and gain valuable insight into what needs further improvement to make the experience better for customers. An effective complaints handling process helps your company progress to improvements that lead to reduced costs, enhanced brand image, and increased customer satisfaction.

The manner in which employees deal with customers or clients is a huge factor in your ability to retain those business relationships. On the other hand, poor management of complaints drives down customer loyalty, takes time to resolve and contributes to negative brand awareness.

Importance of handling complaints

Four steps to successful complaint management

When a customer complains, it is usually for a good reason or genuine concern. They usually have made a purchase that did not meet their expectation - a product, service, or maybe a combination of the two. However, not all complaints are to be treated equally and there are several questions to ask yourself before you take action. The next time you receive a complaint, use the following four step check list in order to respond, resolve and keep your customer happy.

The four step plan is called the LAST complaint plan. It is called the last complaint plan because the letters LAST are an acronym for the steps you must go through in order to handle and control the complaint.

Let us take a look at each step in more detail.

L - Listen

Always listen to your customers. They have complained for a reason and it is important to understand why they are complaining. Research has shown that customers care more about quality than a fast response. In addition, a strong communication structure is required, in order to stay in control of the conversation and to achieve a successful outcome.

Customers who bother to interact with you, even if it's to complain, are likely to remain loyal to your business – but only if they feel you're taking their complaint seriously and doing something to fix the problem. In fact, if your post-complaint actions are done successfully, the next time your customer talks about your organisation, this will be the message they communicate most.

Complaints are a great source of valuable information and listening to customers is a great way to gather genuine feedback which you can then use to guide your future business and marketing decisions.

Remember that not all customer complaints are necessarily valid. Yes, you need to take all customer feedback seriously, but only by listening and carefully understanding the detail of the complaint, can you establish how serious the complaint is and importantly, decide on the appropriate action needed to resolve it. You should not get defensive as if a customer is complaining about a product or service, as possibly other customers might be experiencing similar challenges.

2. Apologise

Don’t be afraid to apologise for a mistake. Many customers are simply looking for an apology and acknowledgement of their complaint, yet so many businesses are hesitant to admit when a mistake has been made. While sorry is sometimes hard to say, it can often quickly and effectively neutralises the customer’s upset and stop the complaint going further.

Also, don't offer excuses — they don't want to hear it, instead, accept the problem and apologize for the issue. Quite often the dissatisfaction the customer feels is not from the original problem, but from the way that their complaint has been handled.

If you do offer an apology, consider whether you should also offer the customer a discount or refund. But, don’t just stop at the apology; make sure that you follow through with a promise to resolve the complaint.

3. Solution

When your customer has a legitimate complaint, you need to find the root cause and solve it. If the issue has been or can be repeated, make the necessary changes so you do not receive another complaint.

Check that the customer is happy with the suggested actions you have committed to. Where appropriate, ask the customer if there is anything further that they think you could do at this stage to help them. Your target must always be to resolve the customer complaint and to do this you will need to offer a solution. Ideally you want to offer a solution which is a win win scenario. This is achieved by turning the complaint into an opportunity and striving for a positive outcome.

Once you and the customer have agreed upon a solution, make sure it is delivered and delivered in the shortest timeframe possible. Give the customer the impression that you will deal with the complaint until it has been resolved. Be sure to give them a clear idea of what the next steps will be and what they should expect. For example, when are they likely to hear from you or how you will contact them? Finally, it’s very important that you always meet the expectations you established with the customer.

4. Thank Them

After you’ve identified the root cause of the customer’s complaint, found a solution, and sent that solution to the customer, it’s important to verify that the solution you proposed actually solved the problem. This will reassure the customer that the same issue is less likely to happen again.

Follow up with your customers to make sure they are satisfied with the solution. This can be in the form of a follow up email or survey asking for feedback on how the complaint was handled. Set a mechanism to prompt a follow up with the customer within an appropriate timeframe to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome and there is no lingering issue.

Successful handling of a customer complaint will:

  • Build brand confidence.
  • The customer will very likely continue to use your services in the future and;
  • Even more importantly may recommend you or your services to others. 

It is also a good idea to share your experience with colleagues and other departments. At the end of the day it is in your best interest to reduce the number of complaints receive. By crafting a customer complaints strategy for dealing with customer complaints around these 4 steps you will better placed to effectively deal with any customer issues that might arise.

Finding the best complaints handling courses

What you might learn from a complaints handling training course

Complaint handling training and courses teach the process and methodology needed to create an effective customer complaints handling procedure. CPD courses are suitable for anybody who deals with complaints as part of their job role, or anybody who may have to handle a complaint. Topics might include complaint handling skills, questioning techniques, dispute resolution, dealing with the complaint, and how to generate customer loyalty.

Online and e-learning complaints handling courses are becoming increasingly popular in recent years particularly due to the significant improvements in technology. Online CPD is able to be completed around your existing time restraints, and can help keep skills up to date suitable for your ongoing CPD obligations.

How to apply for a complaints handling course

The CPD Certification Service is the largest and leading independent CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Our unique 25 years' experience and history gives an assurance that any courses or training will be quality checked and tailored so that each delegate can get the most out of learning.

Within the Courses Catalogue, you can find a full scope of training courses, online & eLearning, workshops and events to help increase your understanding of the complaint handling process. For example this includes what complaints are, why customers complain, their expectations, handling complaints, and explores the practical aspects of dealing with complaints.

CPD Accreditation of complaints handling courses

The accreditation of CPD activities by a recognised organisation provides an assurance that an activity has been reviewed for its educational quality and relevance. Solving customer complaints is a lot like putting out fires. It’s reactive, and no matter how good your product or service is, it’s impossible to please all of your customers. However, we hope that this brief guide has given you a head start.

If you thinking of applying CPD accreditation to your existing training courses and educational events, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

CPD News Team

For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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