Acronym For The Language We Use Every Day In Calss Dealing With Customer Complaints – B.L.A.S.T

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Dealing With Customer Complaints – B.L.A.S.T

In a restaurant, in the not-so-distant, not-so-distant future, the phone rings, a customer complains… and a fight breaks out!

Dealing with customer complaints doesn’t always have to be a struggle, with the right tools and responses you can use complaints to your advantage; to help you build your business. BLAST is a great tool used by companies like Yum! (parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, A&W and Long John Silvers). Train employees on the basics of handling customer complaints. The acronym stands for:

Believe it

Listening

apologize

satisfy

Thank you

How does your company handle customer complaints? The easiest way to find out is to pick up the phone and pretend to be a complaining customer. What’s going on? If you were a frustrated customer, would you come back? Using BLAST guidelines, you can create a standard way to work with your complainers and convert them into loyal customers.

Believe it

This is the cornerstone of customer complaint handling. Yes, the client can lie and be wrong about their situation. It is important to understand that your customer believes that your business is wronging them.

Listening

Stop and listen to the customer’s complaint. I’m not sure if it’s natural instinct or simple stubbornness. As soon as a customer begins to complain, we begin to think about how to respond to the accusation before we even listen, and often we are already prepared to respond. Take a second, relax and listen. Sometimes a complaining customer will use rude, angry, and vulgar language, stay the course, and be calm and level-headed.

When the client finishes venting; calmly, non-judgmentally, repeat the problem. Here’s an example I used at KFC for a mispackaged order:

“What I heard is that you came to the order and paid for 10 chickens and when you got home you only got 8 chickens, is that correct?”

By restating the problem at hand, you have demonstrated to the customer that you have heard and understood their problem.

Listen and clarify. Never defend or justify. The customer doesn’t care if you’re shorthand or having a bad day, they just care that they care. No excuses, just solutions.

apologize

Always apologize, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. From your customers’ perspective, they have a legitimate complaint and they are apologizing. It can be as simple as “I’m sorry to bother you”. or “I’m sorry, I know how frustrating it is to buy lunch for my family, but not everything will be there when I get home” A sincere apology will usually relieve a lot of customer frustration. Although there is an exception to this rule, if a customer calls with a critical complaint, such as food poisoning, if they don’t apologize, it can be construed as an admission of blame, instead refer to your company’s procedures for dealing with such incidents.

satisfy

Do it right. Ask the customer, “What can I do to make this right for you?” Of course, be the judge of what is fair, but allow them to feel empowered about the situation. Often they can ask you to fix the problem on their next visit or talk to the person who made the mistake. We used a great system to send a personalized postcard apologizing for a mistake, it was a few handwritten sentences (yes, many times with my team members spelling mistakes), but it was personal and always well received. We always gave them a surprise, maybe a free dessert or extra side dish to show them we cared.

Thank you

At the beginning, at the end, in the middle; no matter, thank the customer for calling and complaining.

Why? With a simple complaint, your customer is telling you, “I care about your business and your success.” They give you the opportunity to fix the problem and invite them back so they can give you more money. Puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it? Thank them for giving you a second chance, for letting you know that something isn’t working properly at your restaurant, for giving you a chance to fix it, and for not damaging your reputation!

Reputation? I had to throw this out. You work hard day in and day out, trying to make your work the best it can be, and yet one unhappy customer can take it away from you. A happy customer will tell two or three friends about a good experience, but an unhappy customer will tell at least ten friends about their experience, and word of mouth always spreads. For example, when I moved across the country to my new hometown, I was at a Chamber of Commerce event and introduced myself and what we were doing as the new person in the group. Within five minutes, I had a list of 10 restaurants in my area that they thought “needed my services.” Only one person gave me a good restaurant. I didn’t ask, they told me. To this day, I still haven’t been to those restaurants as a customer, why would I want to give them my hard-earned money if they made my new friends miserable? This may not be rational thinking, but it is human nature.

Will some people take advantage of your kindness? Of course, the rule of thumb I used in my restaurant was:

I’m embarrassed for the first time

I’m embarrassed for the second time, but I follow you,

Third time… Shame on you and I will decide how to treat you as a customer.

Track who is calling to complain, names, phone numbers for follow-up, addresses on your postcards. By using the binder and tracking your complaints, you will be able to detect and prevent those who take advantage of your new complaint procedures.

Adding BLAST to your expanding customer service toolbox will help you handle customer complaints and get them to tell their friends about your great service!

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