You started shipping your product for a couple of months now, but are beginning to see an influx of customer emails. What can you do to steer these emails to positive client resolutions, without over-promising or sinking your delicate profit margin?
No company can prosper without the support and satisfaction of their customer base. Customer complaints are an opportunity for companies to gauge a deeper understanding of their customer’s user experience with the product. This opportunity should be taken, with great care to make sure both the customer and the company have a positive symbiotic relationship. Below are some of the trickiest customer complaint scenarios and how you can handle them with some creative communication.
Disclaimer: I’m using a fictional name with a made-up product to protect the privacy of the actual company.
1. When a customer is disappointed in the product:
“I really bought into this product before it rolled out, and now that I’ve received it, I’m pretty disappointed in the end result. I’d like a refund of my Kickstarter pledge.”
Thought process: Customers will sometimes send vague emails on why they’re upset or disappointed. When they do this, it’s an excellent opportunity to ask for clarification and find out the root issue of their disappointment. In this email, I got rid of formalities and aimed for a more empathetic tone. While short, it touches on three important points: it empathizes with the customer’s frustrating experience, it asks for clarification, and it offers a clear and immediate solution.
“I’m very sorry that our Tooka has been disappointing thus far, Sally. Was there something in particular that prompted this? Knowing this will help me better understand the situation, and I’ll try my best make it right for you.”
Additional steps: Be prepare to offer a refund if the customer provides a valid reason and is willing to return the product.
2. When a product is received damaged or broken:
“I was so excited to finally get my Tooka, but it showed up and it’s completely broken! What the hell! I’m going to complain about you on all my social media accounts and make sure none of my friends even think about getting their own Tooka!!!!”
Thought Process: Having a purchase come up short is very disheartening from the customer’s perspective. And even though we recognize not all companies can build and ship everything perfectly, it’s still frustrating to be the one on the receiving end. Showing empathy to the customer’s situation thus becomes very important, followed by an immediate explanation of how you’re going to fix the situation is key.
I’m really sorry to hear about that, that’s very disappointing and we’re extremely embarrassed! There might have been a slight error in the production process, or perhaps the Tooka was damaged while being shipped. Can I send a new one out to you right away?”
Additional Steps: Prepare the new product for shipping and let the customer know that their new Tooka is on its way. To give the effect that the situation is being handled with care, it’s good practice to have the same support person notify the customer of any shipping related updates. A follow-up email can be:
As promised, we’ve just packaged and shipped your new Tooka last night and it should be arriving at your doorstep within the next few days. Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience that this may have caused and hope that we can earn your trust again in the future.
Please let me know when you received your new Tooka and I will mark this ticket as resolved.”
3. When an order is taking a long time to process:
“Why haven’t I gotten my Tooka yet? All of my friends got theirs, and I paid for mine way before they ordered theirs!”
Thought Process: In my experience, KickStarter products are infamous for their post-deadline delivery. Just be transparent about what is going on and confirm with the customer that you’ve received the order and the product should be arriving very soon can help manage their expectations.
“Hi Rachel, and thanks for reaching out to us. First and foremost, we apologize for our lack of transparency in our communications to you. As our valuable backer of our Tooka project, you should have been the first to know about all product updates. We honestly thought we could make our timeline. We were overly optimistic.
We have begun manufacturing in mass production, and have started shipping Tooka to our customers beginning in January 2016. Although we are ramping up our production phase, the volume of orders is growing at a much faster pace. The team has been working hard day/night and weekends in an attempt to deliver Tooka to every customer on time and while we are close, we are not at the finish line.
Please know that we are fulfilling orders as fast as we can. We appreciate your patience and support, but if you would like to cancel, let me know and I will promptly issue a refund to you. No questions asked.
Thanks again and we hope to earn your trust again in the future.”
Additional steps: This may be a mass issue and probably more than customers have not received their Tooka yet. If this is the case, perhaps this apology letter should be drafted for those customers as well.
4. When a customer has multiple issues with the product:
“I ordered a Tooka for my son and thought it was going to get here in time for his birthday. Not only was it late, but it showed up BROKEN!! This has been a TERRIBLE experience. I am a very influential person and will make sure all of my friends know about this!!!!!”
Thought Process: A late delivery is frustrating for anyone, especially if it’s meant to be a birthday gift. This in turn will make for an angry email. Nonetheless, we can take the opportunity to turn this angry customer into a loyal one by making sure the apology is authentic and humble and then come up with a creative solution to save the day. To do this, a personalized email is in order.
First and foremost, we want to extend a huge apology to you. We are creating Tooka for you and are extremely disappointed with ourselves that your Tooka did not arrive in a safe and timely manner.
To make things right, I will send you a new Tooka right away and will personally make sure it gets delivered directly to your hands in one piece. To top it off, we’d like to send your son a short note to wish him a Happy Belated Birthday. Could you tell us his name?
Once again, we are truly sorry. We dropped the ball on this one and will work hard to earn to your trust again in the future.”
Additional Steps: Prepare the package for shipping then craft a creative and playful letter for the customer’s son.
Personalized email to son:
Your Tooka has been gently removed from our Tooka pool of purified crystal water and was delicately placed onto a contamination-free towel to dry. A team of 10 employees examined your Tooka for any defects and polished it to be as shiny as possible before packaging. Our packaging magician turned on a soft lullaby as we all leaned over and watched as he placed your Tooka into the finest box carrier that money can buy. We all celebrated as the whole team marched down the street to the post office where the entire city of Burlingame waved “¡Buen viaje!” to your Tooka, on its way to you, in our private Tooka transporter jet on this day.
Timmy, we want to wish you a Happy Belated Birthday and can’t wait for you enjoy your new Wadgit!
-All your friends at Tooka Land”
5. When a customer is accusing the company of copyright infringement:
“Not only is your Tooka a complete piece of utter crap, it’s also an exact rip off of my product the Gizmondo. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!!!”
Thought Process: When communicating with customers who are accusing the company of doing any illegal activities, it is helpful to do a little research to make sure that their threats do not hold any merit. If we are in the clear, then craft an email to focus on understanding the customer’s true dissatisfaction.
So sorry to hear that you’re not happy with our product. Here at Tooka, our mission is to help customer record their imagination by allowing them to easily store ideas on the fly. When building this product, we made sure that there wasn’t anything like this out there already. Our team of lawyers have reviewed and patented our technology. However, things can get missed, and similar features from an existing idea might have surfaced in our product.
That said, was there something in particular about our product that caused you to feel this way?”
Additional Steps: Listen and acknowledge the feedback then provide a clear plan of action that you would take to improve the product only if it aligns with the company vision. A follow up email can be:
Thanks for the additional feedback. We don’t have a way allow the Tooka to be submerged underwater at this time. However, I think it’s a solid feature idea, and will relay your message to the Product Team right away!
Here’s what’ll happen going forward:
1. The Team will review the request and scope it out in relation to the current mission.
2. If approved, it will be placed on our roadmap (while others are will continue to be monitored for additional requests received.)
3. Prototyping and testing will follow to ensure a smooth integration with our product (to not interfere with other features many users rely on.)
This process helps us maintain the overall quality of the Tooka user-experience. I appreciate you bringing this to light and please feel free to send us any more feedback you may have!
Thanks for using Tooka!”
Regardless of the situation, without customer complaints, a company would not be able to identify their weaknesses. It is imperative when launching a new product to find potential problems quickly, and with the proper customer complaint support, we can get the desired feedback as soon as possible, and fix the problem without losing any customers.
Did you ever find yourself in a tricky customer complaint scenario? What’s your approach to win them back? I’d be interested in hearing your thought on this!