Complaint Handling with Finesse

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Sandy Pardue

When people call to complain, their problem is usually with some specific aspect of your company’s products or services, not with you. Keeping this in mind will remind you not to take a caller’s anger personally. Here are some guidelines for staying calm and focused while handling complaint calls:

  • Keep your emotions under control. Never fall into the trap of responding to a caller’s anger with annoyance or antagonism. Stay calm and cool no matter how indignant the caller is.
  • Apologize sincerely. Even when a problem is not your fault – and much of the time it will not be – tell the customer how sorry you are about the inconvenience. Be specific and take responsibility for the problem. Personalize your apology by using the customer’s name. Example: “Mr. Jackson, please allow me to apologize. I am very sorry this happened to you. Be assured that I will handle this right away.”
  • Be empathetic. Assure the caller that you are sorry about the problem, you understand why he is upset and you will do something to fix it. Repeat to the caller what he has said to convey your comprehension of the situation and reassure the caller that you really do understand.
  • Focus on fixing the problem that upset the caller. Allow the customer to vent a bit, and then guide the customer back on track by asking focused question pertaining to the problem. Get to the root of the issue so you will be able to offer the best solution. Whenever possible, offer a couple of solutions and allow the caller to select the one he would prefer. This helps the caller feel more in control, which helps to defuse much of the person’s tension.
  • Remember to follow up. Whenever you’ve solved a caller’s problem, always make sure to call the customer back within a few days to ensure that the person is satisfied with the solution. If the customer is not satisfied, discuss the issue and offer an alternative solution. You will win the loyalty of your customers by demonstrating your commitment to “making it right.”


Source: “Making Every Call Count: Best Practices for Business Telephone Communication,” by Briefings Publishing Group.

You want customers to be completely satisfied with your organization’s products and services – and let’s face it, no one enjoys listening to complaints. But there are many benefits to resolving customers’ complaints:

  • A more loyal customer: Effectively dealing with a customer complaint can lead to a more loyal customer than others who don’t complain or have problems.
  • Improving your product or processes: Customer complaints allow you to see weaknesses in your products or process that can be rectified. That will prevent future complaints or problems down the line.
  • Customer feedback: Customer complaints are an effective form of customer feedback, although it’s one every organization hopes to eliminate. For every formal complaint an organization receives, there will be 10 other unhappy customers who didn’t complain. Instead, they take their business elsewhere and tell their friends of the dissatisfaction. That is not the type of word-of-mouth advertising you want.
  • Improving business: Quickly solving customer complaints will help your business grow and prosper. Ignoring complaints or dealing with them in a dishonest manner can result in loss of business, reputation and even lawsuits.