You supply the highest quality paper available. You educate the customer and help them select the best paper that meets their requirements and budget. They are sure to be happy with it. But then, the customer calls to complain. Whether it’s an actual problem with the paper or the customer expected more, there are effective ways to deal with a customer complaint.
Listen to the Complaint
Often, our first instinct is to defend our paper, our company, or even ourselves. The most effective way to handle a complaint about paper quality, though, is to listen first. Especially if the customer is angry, speaking defensively will not make her happier. Let the customer fully explain why the paper quality does not meet expectations. Respond with statements that let the customer know you’re still there, or with leading questions to get more information, such as:
- I understand.
- Yes, sir.
- What was the paper weight you expected?
- How is the color different from what you ordered?
When you listen first, with encouraging responses and questions, the customer knows that you are taking the complaint seriously. Beyond that, you get all of the information needed to offer a solution.
More than anything else, the customer wants to know that you understand the situation. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether you agree – satisfaction is based on opinion, and the customer’s opinion matters. After you get all of the information, your next goal is to let the customer know they’ve been heard. Repeat the complaint back in your own words, and use words that show your empathy.
- So the color you ordered was eggshell, but the paper is bright white? I understand your frustration.
- The paper has a glossy finish, but you wanted semi-glossy. I am sorry that you didn’t get what you needed.
When you acknowledge the complaint and tell the customer what you heard, he knows you listened. He knows that you have all the information needed to take action, and that you want to do something to help.
Offer a Solution
Anytime a customer isn’t satisfied with a purchase, you should find an actionable way to give her what she needs. Of course, this step depends on your company’s policies and your own level of authority in dealing with a complaint. If you can, exchange the paper. Offer a refund or a discount on the next purchase. Even if it is a small gesture, the customer will feel better about doing business with your company the next time.
- Unfortunately, I can’t offer a refund since you’ve printed on the paper. What I can do is give you a 25% discount on your next order.
- Let me send you return postage for the unused paper. I will have it replaced with the color you ordered as quickly as possible.
- I need to check with my manager to see what our options are for handling this. Can I get back to you?
Of course, no matter what solution you offer, follow through, and do it as quickly as possible. The way you handle complaints speaks about your business as a whole. It can be the difference in a lifelong customer who refers others to you or a former customer who drives away many other potential customers.