handling customer complaints

Tips from the Pros – Handling Customer Complaints

 Summary: Learn how to navigate the deep water when it comes to handling customer complaints.

You’ve probably heard the saying that an unhappy customer is your best friend. Why? Because they are about to give you feedback that is truly priceless to your process, product or service. A happy customer doesn’t talk much. A customer with an average experience doesn’t have much to share either. But an unhappy customer can speak volumes, and if you’re taking notes, you can make big changes.

I think we can all agree that handling customer complaints is not a fun task, but it’s critical to growing and evolving as a business.

4 steps to handling customer complaints

1. Sit back and listen

Listening is a critical step in managing a complaint. Often, you’ll find that people just want to sound off, and know that their message is getting in to the right hands. Depending on the complaint, you can take it a few steps further.

2. Don’t assume they’re always right

True, there is the philosophy of “the customer is always right” in handling customer complaints. But has anyone taken the time to walk this individual through your process? Paint a picture of what goes into the product or service offering with the goal of creating understanding. It’s easy for consumers to make assumptions about how things work within your organization.

3. Ask them to solve it

Wait, hear us out. It’s easy to jump to a proposed solution that you feel adequately compensates your consumer, but guess what! It may be overkill. Ask your caller what he or she thinks is a fair resolution to the problem. You may find that they walk away happy with much less than your standard offer. Let them lead this idea, then go back with what you can do.

4. Follow up

This is the step most companies will skip. But in handling customer complaints the right way, and in a way that is more likely to invite the customer to return, the added gesture of a follow-up phone call or letter shows that you really care about this individual’s outcome with your product or service. Plus, it’s another learning opportunity.  You can also create a survey to gauge customer sentiment after some time has passed, especially if the customer was distressed during the initial contact session.

5. Take notes

Aggregate individual complaints into a system that allows you to gain key insights. Once you see some trends, it’s your opportunity to dig in behind the scenes and see where your process is flawed.

There are many more tactics and suggestions in handling customer complaints. If you simply look at the process as a learning opportunity, you’ll allow your business to evolve and grow.


Download our  2015 “Customer Rage” study. This free, detailed study offers primary research on the issues Americans are experiencing with brands and examines customer-complaining behavior.

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