When running a fitness center or any other business for the matter, it is only a matter of time till you have to deal with a disappointed or angry customer. This is when you face the challenge of handling the situation in such a way that the customer discovers the best qualities about your gym. If you get lucky, you might even end up earning a lifetime member with several recommendations. Let’s see how you can take full control of the situation and turn an upset customer into a loyal member.
Controlling Various Forums of Complaints
In addition to getting a resolution to their problem, upset customers might even intend to tarnish your reputation and influence others to avoid your gym. The worst part is that they can spread their messages through a wide variety of ways. This means that you need to learn how to effectively handle different complaint situations through multiple forums. Let’s take a look at how you can deal with a dissatisfied customer in various situations:
• In Person
Handling customer complaints in person is perhaps the most important because you have the opportunity to make things right then and there. When a member approaches you in person to make a complaint, it also means that they are mainly looking for a resolution to their problem. Your body language and vocal tone will play a huge role in whether or not the patron leaves disappointed.
Your first step is to pause and listen to the complaint before you do anything else. Make sure your facial expression is serious but approachable and always maintain eye contact to show that you are listening to them. With proper listening, you should also have a clear idea about what to do next and what might make the customer happy. If not, you can also try asking the customer what you can do to make it right.
When customers complain over the phone or through a voice message, your vocal tone, your response time, your choice of words, and your listening skills will all play an important role. If you’re handling a telephone or voice message complaint, make it a point to avoid using a scripted language. Make it personalized and always listen carefully to whatever the customer is saying.
Your email etiquette can say a lot about you and how you run your business. It also plays a huge role when you need to handle customer complaints using email. Always show respect toward your gym members even when you’re communicating with them through email. Use proper email formatting but avoid using a template response at all costs. Customers like it when you take the time out to draft an email complaint response just for them.
Before you reply to any email complaints, make sure you read and understand the issue properly. Even if the customer hasn’t supplied much information, try to find out as much as you can or ask them for more information instead of making assumptions. There is nothing an upset customer hates more than a useless solution, so you need to prioritize on getting a clear idea of the issue.
• Social media
Handling complaints on social media is tricky. This is not just between you and the disappointed customer, but also involves other people who can see the posts and comments. Take control of the situation and try to communicate with the individual through private messages instead. Whatever you do, always be respectful in each and every reply. Make sure you read and understand the issue correctly before you give a likely resolution.
A good practice is to paraphrase the complaint in your understanding and confirm with the customer if you got it right. This is a great way to come up with the correct resolution as well as show your customer that you really listen.
• Indirect Member Reviews
Local business review websites such as Yelp, Google, Insider Pages, and Yahoo! are highly influential. Dissatisfied customers can take advantage of these platforms and give you bad reviews that can affect your business. Avoid arguing with the customer and always remember that your response to the review can make a huge difference. If you genuinely suspect that the review was written by a competitor or former employee, you can try “flagging” it.
When dealing with disgruntled customers, always try to solve the problem immediately instead of procrastinating. Don’t miss your follow-ups or you might end up disappointing the customer even further. It is also important to remember that there are some people who will never be satisfied regardless of what you do. The rule is to put in your best effort to make them happy, but never beat yourself up about it even if you fail to do so.
Over to you…
How do you handle member complaints?
How do you deal with unfavorable online reviews?