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.  Don't be dismissive of your customer's problem - even if you're convinced you're not at fault. Although it might seem contradictory, a customer with a complaint represents 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 who silently took their custom elsewhere

Complaints should be handled courteously, sympathetically and - above all - swiftly. Make sure that your business has an established procedure for dealing with customer complaints and that it is known to all your employees. At the very least it should involve:

listening sympathetically to establish 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 the problem has been made good

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.