How to Handle a Customer Complaint

We’ve all been there. A customer calls frustrated or even angry about something that recently happened, and he or she blames your business. Many times, it’s not necessarily your fault, but that’s the last thing they want to hear.

The best way to handle these freakouts is to coach your team on how you handle these situations. As a leader, you’re responsible for teaching them how to handle this. The following article will give you tips on how to defuse the situation and ensure you establish a great relationship again.  

  1. Remember that this is about them, not you.

The first step in this situation is to recognize that this is about them, not you. If they’ve taken the time to reach out to you, this is your chance to save the day. Marketing expert Jay Baer stated that, “People who complain put in the effort to register their opinions, which is much better than the silent frustration and apathy of the unimpressed middle.” Businesses can no longer be afraid of complaints. If handled the right way, your efforts will lead to identifiable results, such as retaining a customer and regaining trust with them.  

Focus on keeping the customer calm, and let them know that you hear their complaint. Inform them that you will do everything possible to find a resolution.  Remember, an unhappy client is 50% more likely to share about their experience than a happy client, so, do your best to save the day.

  1. Reach out with a phone call.

If the conversation is going back in forth through social media or email, shift it to a phone call as soon as you can. The chances of miscommunication goes down significantly when you are on the phone, which will help ease the tension some. If a customer calls unexpectedly to leave a complaint, take notes while you are having the conversation with them so you can refer back to their concerns. If they leave a voicemail, be sure to call them back within 24 hours to show them that this is a priority for you

  1. Don’t interrupt them

People want to be heard. There is nothing worse then someone talking over you. Interrupting them will just cause the customer to get more angry. Wait for them to finish, think about what you want to say, and then respond calmly. Responding calmly is key, too. Sometimes just hearing a friendly voice on the other side of the phone is enough!

  1. Act Quickly

The longer you wait to resolve the issue or respond to your customer the worse it could get. If you can not solve the problem immediately, you should show that you’re taking the issue seriously. Share with them a timeline for what you’re going to do next. Something as simple as, “I’m going to speak with my manager right now to see how this happened and how we will fix it,” could be effective. Then be sure to follow up with them as you receive new information. Keeping them in the loop will pay off in the long run.

  1. Validate their feelings

The customer is calling, in part, to confirm you see this as a problem, too. Even if it’s not your fault (they think it is, for now), it’s your fault. If you deny responsibility, it will make you look less credible and the customer will get more annoyed.

Phrases such as, “I’d be frustrated too,” are good things to say to validate their feelings. At the end of the call, use your notes to recap the customer’s concerns. This shows that you were paying attention and makes the customer feel more confident in your abilities.   

  1. Recognize that this might be your company’s fault

Often, your customer is freaking out about something your business did do. Was an employee rude to them? Did someone not follow through on promises or deadlines? No matter what slipped through the cracks, it’s your responsibility to ask the customer what he or she wants.

What is their ideal outcome to the problem? Don’t automatically assume you know what they want. For example, you might think they want to cancel and get a refund, but really they could just be looking for a simple sorry. Be sure to check with them and see how you can resolve this. You won’t know what they want until you ask them. After they tell you, let them know you will do everything possible to resolve this and will follow up with them shortly.

  1. Get additional information from your team to fully understand what happened.

If you had nothing to do with the problem and need more details from your team on what went wrong, ASK. Your goal is to piece together what happened so that you can react correctly. You’ll want to get to the bottom of the issue in order to prevent it from happening in the future.

With these 7 tips, you will be in a much better place when it comes to dealing with customer complaints. Remember to keep your customer in the loop during this process and give them a timeline on when their problem will be resolved. Communication is the key to making sure the issue gets resolved in the best possible way. No business is perfect, but everyone can make a difference when it comes to customer service.


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