Dealing with an angry client can be a stressful experience, but there is gold in them there customer complaint hills if you have the means to mine it. Turning a dissatisfied client into a lifelong ally is a subtle psychological chess match that, if you keep your eye on the endgame, can be a source of deep and lasting satisfaction.

Everyone knows the statistic of the happy versus the unhappy customer and who is more likely to tell others of their negative experiences. Factor in social media and you could have a hot viral mess on your hands if an asset goes rogue online.

If you don’t want to see your company’s name hurtfully dropped into a Twitter stream read on…

-Don’t hide!

In any business problems are a way of life, not a sign that you are doing things wrong. Avoiding your customers when they have a grievance, or pushing their ticket to the back of the line hoping that the problem will go away is only going to make your customer feel abandoned.

-Listen more than talk

Your inbox may be bursting at the digital seams with messages but that is not an excuse to not attend your customer. Every second you shave off your response time is more precious than gold. The first step to solving your client’s problem is to understand it and what better way to understand someone than by talking to them? If your interlocutor lacks technical knowledge you will have to draw out of them what the problem is; ask them to describe their problem in as much detail as possible, guiding them through the technicalities and getting the when, where and what down before going on to the next stage. Try to not contradict what you hear, remember the old saying “the customer is always right” and put yourself in their place.

-Get to work

Time to get your hands dirty. Once the incident has come in you need to give feedback on how the solution is progressing. If it turns out that the customer’s situation is a result of external factors, or even your fault, you can try to sweeten the situation by offering a small “gift”, for example a discount on a future invoice, or an extension of the customer support terms. Keep them on board.

-Get constructive feedback

Follow-up surveys, questionnaires, even a ten minute chat are all great ways to find out how the experience was for your client and give you data on how your support services can be improved. A few testimonials are never out of place – let your other customers know just how much their colleagues appreciate your after sales service.

-Learn from your mistakes

When the dust has settled it’s time for the autopsy: was everything done as well as it could have been? Was the protocol followed? Was it an anomalous situation or a repeated error? With a service helpdesk to support your team you can track incidents while they are “live” and maintain a historical database of prior incidents to offer better and quicker solutions in the future.

Now you know, when “that” call comes in, or “that” email turns up in your inbox it need not be cause for alarm. It’s an opportunity, not a threat; it’s a chance to learn, improve and demonstrate your commitment to top tier customer service support.