How to effectively manage customer complaints?

By Vikas Mehra November 18, 2019

We can’t fix it, if we don’t know it’s broken – An old saying

A Customer complaint is customer’s expression of dissatisfaction about a product, service or combination of both. A dissatisfied customer is one who feels a business did not provide a product or service as expected. It can also be looked upon as a feedback from the customer regarding a product or a service. Such feedbacks can help companies continuously improve their products and services.

Less than 50% of unhappy customers bring a complaint to the attention of the company. About 13% of those who do not complain will tell on an average of 10 - 20 other people about their bad experience. It is important that we recognise complaints as opportunities, resolve them with sense of urgency and convert unhappy customers into brand advocates

Following are the Do's and Don'ts of customer complaint management

Do's while handling a customer complaint

  • Be thankful to the customers who take out time and display the effort to share their dissatisfaction about your products and services
  • Put yourself in customer’s shoes, agree that the problem exists and tell the customer – ‘Let’s see what we can do to sort this out’ 
  • Listen attentively and patiently and let the unhappy customer blow off steam. Respond with listening cues such as “I see,” and “Tell me more,” “I see what you mean” etc. Do not interrupt the customer. Customer, after venting out and seeing you not reacting, will begin to calm down. Customer needs to be in a calm frame of mind before he or she can hear your solution or anything that you have to say 
  • Display sense of urgency while responding to an unhappy customer
  • Take responsibility for solving the customer’s problem. If you cannot help them directly, help them find the right person in the Organisation and ensure response from that person. Never give an excuse to the customer that ‘I am from a different department’. Customer service is everyone’s department
  • Take all the facts from the customer for an optimal resolution. Paraphrase regularly to ensure that you understanding is right. Do not jump to conclusions before you have heard the customer completely
  • Admit and apologise for the mistakes made by the company. Ensure that the customer believes that he or she is dealing with one, unified organisation and not a medieval battleground of warring fiefdoms!
  • Use simple language for a successful communication. Avoid technical jargons and your company specific terminology
  • Refrain from promising about matters you do not have a direct control on
  • Provide reassurance to the customer about the positive attributes of your product or service, after you have resolved the problem
  • Share your experience with you colleagues


Don’ts while handling a customer complaint

  • Do not get defensive and take things personally. Stay calm when a customer presents you with a complaint. Keep in mind that the issue is not personal and customer is not attacking you directly but rather the situation at hand
  • Do not make the customer repeat their complaint. If you have to transfer their complaint to your colleague, either in person or on phone, summarise the problem for your colleague and make a warm transfer
  • Do not leave the customer waiting in the office or on the phone for a long time. Keep them informed about the resolution process and time 
  • Do not talk about what you cannot do, emphasise on what you can do


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