Customer Complaints Guide

by Ian Miller

Learn how to handle customer complaints the right way and turn a bad experience into one that will result in a long lasting customer relationship.


Not everyone that deals with your firm is going to be happy with your product or service. Handling customer complaints properly can help you deal with the issue at hand, while giving you the opportunity to retain the customer. Before you deal with a customer whose expectations were not met, use this this guide to resolve matters in a favourable manner.

1. Give your staff the authority to deal with the customer’s concern

Since you know that some customers will complain, teach your staff how to deal with common situations appropriately. If the concern is a relatively minor one, allow them to deal with it promptly by offering a refund or replacement as necessary.

2. Listen to the customer’s concerns carefully

All customers want to feel that they are being listened to and that their concerns are being taken seriously. Allow the customer to explain what the issue is without interrupting. If the complainant feels that his or her concerns are not being taken seriously, it will only serve to escalate the situation.

3. Empathise with the customer

When you and your staff use words like, “I see” and “I understand” it shows the customer that you are on his or her side. The situation is diffused from one where you and the customer are at odds, to one where you can start to work on a solution that makes sense to both of you.

4. Apologise for the inconvenience

An important part of making the other person feel that his or her concerns are being taken seriously is to apologize for the inconvenience and any loss the customer has experienced in dealing with you. If you have listened carefully and apologised sincerely, it will help the customer to move past being annoyed and will help in moving positively to the next step in dealing with a customer’s complaint.

5. Offer a solution to the issue

If the customer received a defective product or wasn’t happy with the service he or she was given, determine what you, as a business owner or manager, needs to do to make it right in the customer’s eyes. This does not mean that a customer with an unjustified complaint should hold your business hostage.

When dealing with customer complaints, your efforts should be directed to understanding and empathy. You then need to find a solution to the issue. Keeping these three goals in mind will help you to resolve the problem effectively.

Read more articles in the Customer Complaints Guide:

1. Handling Customer Complaints: The LAAF Method

2. Effective Complaint Management: 12 Steps to Customer Delight

3. The 3 Things Complaining Customers Fear Most

4. 6 Reasons Why Complaining Customers are Golden

5. How to Handle Customer Complaints

6. How to Turn Customer Service Complaints into Profits

7. Embrace Your Customer’s Complaints

8. Complaints Are Actually A Good Thing!

9. Managing Caller Hostility on a Customer Complaint Hotline

10. Learning from Your Employees' and Customers' Complaints

11. Dealing With Customer Complaints - B.L.A.S.T

12. Ways to Handle Complaints and Keep Customers Happy

13. Hit The Jackpot With Customer Complaints

14. Thank Goodness for Customer Complaints

15. How to Successfully Handle Customer Complaints

16. Complaints - The Tip of the Iceberg

17. Which Customers Complain the Most about Customer Service?

18. Complaining Customers: An Opportunity Not a Threat

19. Turn Complaints Into A Challenge

20. How to Handle Client Complaints

21. 5 Easy Steps to Getting Your Complaints Resolved