You work in front of the public day in and day out, standing behind a counter ringing up sales, taking people’s money to deposit into their bank accounts, or taking their food orders.
In short, you’re in the customer service industry. So, on top of performing your primary tasks well, you’re expected to smile and act cheerful at all times.
The slightest deviance from that constant cheerfulness can put some customers in a tailspin, which can lead to one of the most dreaded of all words in customer service: complaint.
Yes, you can miss sales goals and still keep your job, but the moment a customer complains, staying employed, or staying off the boss’s watch list, can, in some work environments, become almost a second job for you. After all, customer service is about pleasing customers to keep them coming back for more of what your company sells.
So, how can you bounce back from a customer complaint?
First, whether the customer is right or wrong, a customer-service business will typically need to placate the customer. Management will likely apologize to him or her on the company’s behalf—and by extension, for you. Without that apology, the customer may not feel appeased and may take a bullhorn to badmouth your company and you. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, you can, and should, explain to your employer why you believe the customer’s complaint is wrong (if indeed it is)—it’s your reputation with the company, after all—but assure your boss that you will “take one” for the team. Don’t argue later with the customer over the incident. Additionally, if you indeed were in the wrong, don’t be defensive when your boss confronts you about the complaint. Apologize to him or her. Be open to any additional training your boss may ask you to undergo to improve in the face of a similar situation. Show your boss that you care about your job and the company.
Second, smile, smile, and smile. Be courteous at all times. Don’t show your boss or coworkers that you’re down in the face of the complaint. Continue to do a great job each day, and, if possible, exceed goals. Typically, sales and similar customer-service jobs keep a running tab on goals met, so it shouldn’t be hard to display your accomplishments to your boss and others who make the decisions for your company.
Third, don’t “commit” the same “mistake” that led to the complaint. I use quotation marks here because your “mistake” may have been perceived as such by a customer, when in fact it was not a mistake. This happens often in retail and similar jobs. A friend of mine found herself as the target of a complaint because she did not acknowledge a customer while she was closing her register. My friend was counting hundreds of dollars, and the store had already closed. Yet, the customer had been upset because she claimed she had not been acknowledged. My friend said she was focused on the task at hand, did not want to lose count of the money, and felt vulnerable because the register was open. Regardless, her company took the customer’s side. Ultimately, my friend did not follow the steps I outline in this blog, and she wound up leaving the company. So, whether it is a real or perceived mistake, don’t make it again.
In closing, customer service jobs are hard—far harder than many realize. Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at your tasks and accommodating customers, if you’re in customer service, you’ll probably be the subject of a complaint at some point in your career. Sometimes it’s due to the customer’s misunderstanding, and sometimes it’s because the employee really is in the wrong. Whichever, follow the steps in this blog to rise above the complaint to keep your job. It’s all part of careering.