Guide

Manage your customer service

How to deal with customer complaints

Every business has to deal with situations in which things go wrong from a customer's point of view.

However you respond if this happens, don't be dismissive of your customer's problem - even if you're convinced you're not at fault. A customer with a complaint can be a genuine opportunity for your business:

  • if you handle the complaint successfully, your customer is likely to prove more loyal than if nothing had gone wrong
  • people willing to complain are rare - your complaining customer may be alerting you to a problem experienced by many others

You should also be aware of your legal duties when handling customer complaints.

How to handle complaints

You should handle complaints courteously, sympathetically and swiftly. Make sure that all staff in your business know your a procedure for dealing with customer complaints. At the very least it the process should involve:

  • listening to the details of the complaint
  • recording the details together with relevant material, such as a sales receipt or damaged goods
  • offering rectification - whether by repair, replacement or refund
  • appropriate follow-up action, such as a letter of apology or a phone call to make sure that you have solved the problem

If you're proud of the way you rectify problems - by offering no-questions refunds, for example - make sure your customers know about it. Your method of dealing with customer problems is one more way to stay ahead of your competitors.

When a customer complains online

Customers may choose to voice complaints on social media platforms such a Twitter or Facebook. These complaints and you handle them have an even bigger impact on your reputation as they take place in public. The best approach is to respond quickly and publically acknowledge the complaint. You should then continue the conversation by private message, email or phone call.  

See use social media safely