6 Step guide to handling customer complaints

Tip for handling customer complaints

Every business has to deal with dissatisfied customers at some point and with COVID causing an increase in frustration for a whole host of reasons, chances are you are going to need an easy process for handling customer complaints that will boost customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty.

But even without COVID, customer complaints can arise from a number of different situations and no business that I’ve come across is immune to things going wrong.

The best businesses have strategies in place for dealing with customer complaints and turn dissatisfied customers into not only satisfied customers but also advocates for their business.

And getting the customer experience right has never been more important with customer experience now the new battlefield to win and retain customers.

A recent survey of Australian consumers found when asked what they would do if they experienced poor customer service:

  • 58% would never use that company again
  • 58% would tell their friends and colleagues
  • 16% would post something online
  • 16% would use social media
  • Only 3% would do nothing

(Source: NewVoiceMedia)

I think the survey results above underplay it a bit – I don’t know of many people who have had a bad experience and they’ve continued to use the same company.

Even if they’ve been a loyal customer for years, once bad slip up not handled correctly and it could be all over.

It’s therefore critical that every business has a strategy in place for dealing with customer complaints to ensure they are handled effectively and customer satisfaction is restored before it does any irreparable damage.



The 6 step guide to handling customer complaints:

1. Listen

The customer is concerned and they want to express it.

Let them explain their issue to you and listen so that you understand completely.

If you don’t understand the problem you cannot effectively solve it.

That doesn’t mean you have to stand there and take abuse though – there are some tips you can use to handle angry customers that you should also check out.

2. Empathise

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Empathise with their situation and ask questions to gather any additional information you need to be able to offer a suitable solution.

Empathy statements can be perfect for this situation – some simple lines that anyone can use as long as they are said with genuine intent they can be incredibly powerful!

Check out some empathy statements used in customer service > 

3. Thank the customer for the opportunity

The customer could have walked away and spread their negative experience, instead they’re giving you the opportunity to turn them into a satisfied customer.

Genuinely thank them for that opportunity.

4. Solve the problem

Work with the customer to negotiate a solution to their issue.

By involving the customer in shaping the solution they will be much more accepting of it.

5. Deliver on your promise

Once you and the customer have agreed upon a solution, make sure it is delivered and delivered in the shortest timeframe possible.

If you don’t deliver as promised you will undo all the good work you have done thus far.



6. Follow up

Set a mechanism to prompt a follow up with the customer within an appropriate timeframe to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome and there is no lingering issue.

By crafting a customer complaints strategy for dealing with customer complaints around these 6 steps you will effectively deal with customer issues resulting in higher customer loyalty, increased customer revenue and improved profits.

As Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Some additional articles that can also help:

Need some training on complaints management or some professional help?

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