How To Handle Customer Complaints: A Step-By-Step Guide to De-escalation Process | Magic Assistant Blog

How To Handle Customer Complaints: A Step-By-Step Guide to De-escalation Process

Li Ramos
Li Ramos
June 16, 2022
Business owner talking to a customer

A customer complaint can be an opportunity for your business to improve customer satisfaction. In what’s called the service recovery paradox, having a de-escalation process to handle complaints efficiently can result in customers thinking more highly of your business than before they ever had a problem.

De-escalation techniques can ease the intensity of the situation to resolve the conflict in a peaceful atmosphere. To help you with your de-escalation process, here is a five-step guide you can follow on how to handle customer complaints effectively.

1. Stay Calm and Listen Attentively

It can be challenging to talk to a complaining customer, especially when they get rude or aggressive. While it might seem like a personal attack sometimes, the customer complaint can highlight an area of your business you can improve on.

One of the most important things in handling customer complaints is to make them feel that they are being heard. Allow them to vent for as long as necessary and avoid interrupting despite the intensity of their comments. It’s important to have poise and self-control so you can properly understand their situation and offer a resolution. 

Moreover, having a calm disposition helps angry customers to tone down so they can better communicate their problems. Make sure to respond using de-escalation phrases, such as “I see,” or “Tell me more,” to let them know you’re actively listening.

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2. Gather as Much Information as Possible

To avoid missed opportunities in resolving a customer complaint as quickly as possible, you will need to get information about the problem and complaining customer.

De-escalation techniques include asking the right questions to identify the source of the complaint and use the gathered information to resolve it properly. Ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding of the situation:

  • What made you try out our product/service?
  • Can you help me understand what you meant by…?
  • Can you expand on that a bit more?
  • Can you give an example of it?
  • How long have you been having this problem?
  • Is this your first time approaching us with this complaint?

Moreover, you should also identify the type of customer you’re dealing with to inform you how to better interact with them. If you have their personal information, personalizing their customer support experience like using their name builds trust and a positive perception that you’re invested in their situation.

customer support assistant de-escalating complaint talking to a customer

According to a University of Florida study, there are five types of complaining customers motivated by different beliefs, attitudes, and needs:

They avoid confrontation so they’re less likely to make a complaint. Instead, they might just silently take their business elsewhere. You may need to reach out to them for comments and feedback.

They will readily let you know there’s a problem, often angrily and lengthily. You should practice firm politeness when interacting with them.

They demand premium support and are willing to pay for it. If you think a disgruntled user could be a high roller, prioritize solving their problems first⁠—it’ll pay off in repeat business later on.

They aim to get something out of the complaint they aren’t entitled to receive. Stick to facts when dealing with them. Get them to acknowledge specific solutions you propose, to keep them from increasing the scope of their complaints.

They are unsatisfied with your business so they continuously report issues. Compared to the rip-off customers, however, they want actual resolution and appreciate your efforts to fix the situation. Be extremely patient and offer an honest effort in de-escalating the situation. When satisfied, they often think more positively of your business and become repeat customers.

3. Show Empathy

Be empathetic throughout the de-escalation process. After the customer explains their side, make sure to take the time to thank them for reaching out to you and acknowledge the issue. It isn’t necessarily agreeing with the complaining customer but respecting their feelings and perception. Here are a few examples of what to say:

  • “Thanks for taking the time to provide me with this feedback. I can see your point on that.”
  • “Thank you for letting us know about this issue. I can understand how frustrating it is when…”
  • “It’s no more acceptable to us than it was to you. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience it caused you.”

Sincerely apologize even if you aren’t personally the cause of the problem. Instead, admit it on behalf of your business since this shows a sense of responsibility. You can also use this opportunity to start a genuine conversation with the customer to establish a trusting relationship.

4. Provide a Timely Solution

With enough information about the complaint, you should now give your customer a solution to the best of your ability. De-escalation techniques will only be able to improve customer satisfaction if you’re able to address complaints effectively.

Know what your business can and can’t do within its guidelines, so you won’t make any unrealistic promises. However, time is of the essence here. Depending on the severity of the situation, a complaining customer is more likely to become frustrated if they wait longer than expected which can end with them taking their business elsewhere.

customer support handling complaint

It’ll be useful to set up a system that sorts the customer support tickets according to their level of urgency and priority. If you can, offer a solution for free to de-escalate the situation quickly.

On the other hand, escalated calls can occur if you aren’t able to resolve the issue by yourself. Setting up an escalation management system can aid your process on how to handle customer complaints. With it, you can seamlessly assign complaints to the right customer rep to avoid wasting time and effort.

5. Confirm That the Issue Is Resolved

Once you propose a customer resolution, take the time to ensure that the problem is actually solved. It can be as simple as adding a line to the end of your customer support script like, “Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. I’m happy to help!”

Work through the customer resolution yourself to verify its effectiveness. You can then assure and help the customer in applying the proposed solution using data or visual aids like screenshots or screen recordings. In some cases, you can reach back out to the customer after a few days.

Lastly, make sure to log the complaint and monitor its satisfaction rating. This way, you easily identify flaws, issues, and trends and then learn how to tackle them with the corresponding team.

Get Started On De-escalation Techniques With a Magic Assistant

Customer complaints may always arise no matter if the reason is justified or not. It’s just a matter of being prepared ahead of time so you can effectively implement de-escalation techniques.

Develop and execute a process for handling customer complaints with the help of a Magic Customer Support Assistant. They can handle non-voice and voice support to help you win and retain clients using best practices on how to handle customer complaints.

Aside from responding to customers through your email, chat, and phone support, a Magic Assistant can help you with different customer retention strategies. This can include conducting surveys, informing customers about new developments, and updating your customer relationship management (CRM) database.

They can also help in crafting your customer support script using positive scripting and other de-escalation techniques. They are adept in escalation management to improve the way you handle support tickets. Moreover, they can take on quality management to ensure that your customer service is consistently good, as well as help your support team improve their work. 

Cut down the costs and duration of scaling talent and operations with Magic. We’ll handle the hiring process from sourcing to qualifying candidates for you—all you need is to book a call with us! Within 72 hours, you can get matched with a Magic Customer Support Assistant based on your specifications.

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