Nobody likes getting customer complaints about employees, but complaints are inevitable because it is extremely difficult to achieve 100 percent customer satisfaction. Complaints can actually benefit a company because they show the management team where the company is falling short of customer expectations and where it needs to improve. The business owner and his team should encourage feedback from customers. When you get a complaint about an employee, take the time to get the whole story and work to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Review all complaints that come in through the Internet, over the phone or at the work site. Look for patterns in the complaints that might reveal the root causes of customer dissatisfaction. Restaurant customers, for example, might feel that they were rushed through their meals so the waiters could turn the tables more quickly. Knowing the most frequently mentioned complaints helps management determine what changes need to be made to improve customer satisfaction.
Because high customer satisfaction results in repeat business, and because dissatisfied customers often take their business to another company, you must make sure that customer complaints are addressed and resolved immediately. Show the disgruntled customers you are there to help. Express a willingness to go out of your way to resolve the issues to the customers’ satisfaction. Contacting the customer via email or on the phone --or preferably in person, if the customer is still on the premises -- lets you obtain more information about what the business did wrong from the customer’s standpoint and how you can repair the customer relationship.
The Internet makes it is easy for a customer to post a complaint that is read by large numbers of people. Employees who read these complaints might become demoralized. Teach your staff to learn from the complaints rather than taking them personally. Get the employee’s side of the story regarding the complaint. It could be the employee did everything she could to make the customer happy. If so, let her know you stand behind her work. If not, let the employee know what she did wrong and provide instruction on how to avoid the problem in the future.
To improve overall customer satisfaction, employees might need more training in how to be courteous and diplomatic to unhappy customers. Set up role-playing sessions where you portray an unhappy customer, then provide feedback regarding how the employee responded to the situation. Implementing procedures to address customer complaints more promptly can minimize the damage to the company’s image. A quick and successful resolution of the complaint can allow the company to retain the customer’s business in the future.
In his book, “Happy Customers Everywhere,” author and marketing consultant Bernd Schmitt presents the case that customer satisfaction is related to employees’ satisfaction with their jobs. If your employees enjoy their jobs, they are more likely to make your customers happy. Use formal surveys or informal conversations to ask your employees about their level of job satisfaction, and what you can do to improve it. They might have simple requests such as more comfortable seating or better lighting at the customer service desks. When you receive a compliment about an employee's customer service work, share it with him. This gives the employee a more balanced perspective of how customers view the company and his own performance.