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Dealing with Complaints

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
Dealing With Complaints Business

Whether it’s over the phone or face-to-face even the most successful businesses will have to deal with complaints now and again – it’s inevitable. If someone has a genuine grievance, it’s important to realise two things. Firstly, you can never ‘win’ as such and it’s crucial to accept that fact in that, with any complaint, your main duty is to minimise the effect of that and to try to rectify the situation to ultimately reach the most mutually acceptable resolution as you can. And, the second thing to remember, unless you run a one man operation, is that any complaints, no matter how fierce they are, should never be perceived as a personal attack on you.

Granted, some customers can get so uptight that they might verbally lash out at you but, in reality, it’s the company they’ve got the grievance with so, if you keep both of those thoughts in mind, it will help tremendously in how you deal with the complaint as that is going to be the key determining factor as to how the customer will perceive your company in the future. Here are a few tips in how to deal with a complaint effectively.


Listening to a customer’s grievance without interruption is the first thing you should be prepared to do. Not only will that enable you to assess their complaint more fully, if you interrupt halfway through their complaint or get annoyed with them, they’re likely to get even more agitated than they already are. You might find that they are so wound up that, initially, it might be difficult to get to the root of the problem but interrupting them will only make it worse. And, even if you’ve heard the same complaint 100 times that week, don’t butt in by saying things like, “I know what you’re about to say and…..”. Let them have their voice heard.


Once they’ve finished making their complaint, you need to firstly recap the issue to let them know that you’ve understood the reason for their complaint. This might seem unnecessary but you need to ensure that what you’ve heard accurately reflects what they have told you. Once that’s agreed, you should then apologise to the customer. And, if you’ve heard incorrectly, you need to ask the customer to re-iterate the complaint again and then apologise.

The Apology

When you apologise, it’s important that you don’t pass the buck and don’t make excuses. Whether it is or isn’t directly your fault, you are the representative of the company here so it’s important to accept responsibility. An example might be where an important delivery has turned up 2 days late. Don’t say things like, “I’m sorry Mr Smith but our order processing team are a bit short-staffed at the moment as several of them are on holiday and that’s why there was a delay.” If you give that as a response, Mr Smith is likely to get even more irked. Your response should be along the lines of “I do apologise Mr Smith. That shouldn’t have happened. As you didn’t receive your goods within the time specified, I’m going to do all I can to help you.” In other words, you have accepted liability, you’ve apologised and you’ve stated that you are going to try to come up with a resolution and they are the 3 things, the customer wants to hear, not a load of waffle and lame excuses.

The Resolution

The important thing here is to realise that you are going to suffer some kind of loss but the result you’ll be hoping for should be one which will appease the customer in some way and one which will satisfy them enough to come back to you as a customer again in the future. It may be that you’ll have to offer financial compensation or some kind of discount against future purchases if you want to keep hold of them as a customer. It’s also worth remembering that the resolution needs to be able to compensate for the loss adequately otherwise the customer may end up getting even angrier because they feel your ‘offer’ was derogatory. Yes, there will be some customers who will try to push you into getting more out of the situation than it merits and you don’t need to give in to that kind of pressure but make sure your resolution is adequate compensation for the inconvenience caused.

You need to accept that you’re never going to win them all. Some customers will feel that hard done by that they’ve already decided never to use your company again and it wouldn’t matter what compensation you offered them. But the key thing is to do the right thing in the majority of cases so that you retain your company’s reputation and the person as a customer.

Customers who complain can often help a company improve their performance by identifying weak areas in the organisation which you can then rectify and it’s useful to remember this as the worst scenario are those customers who have been unhappy with your product or service and who simply couldn’t be bothered to seek a resolution and have just taken their custom elsewhere. Therefore, in dealing with complaining customers, you not only get the opportunity to find out what’s going wrong in the company but you also get the chance to enhance your reputation by providing a satisfactory resolution which, as a result, can often improve a customer’s perception of your company. That’s the outcome you should always be aiming to achieve, and it’s only possible if you follow the correct etiquette for dealing with complaints.

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Thank you .. for helping us i have just got promoted and this has really helped me grow in my position changed my mindset and approach towards my team
MISS COURTZ - 9-May-18 @ 4:29 PM
I think this article is very helpful to office people and myself in knowing how to deal with customers with complaints or just people generally i think everbody should you this method.
c - 9-May-13 @ 12:38 PM
This article was great. I learned alot about this article, I think this one of the easiest ways to deal with irate customers.
Deonte - 9-May-13 @ 12:37 PM
I agree that a customer's complaint shouldn't be taken personal.Its a grieveance and the cusomer's always right.
Lyric - 8-May-13 @ 1:39 PM
This is a really good article, because it helps me alot in so many ways now to handle any type of situation now.
bagmonster - 8-May-13 @ 1:38 PM
This article is a great for a people who don't know how to really communicate on the phone in the workplace. I taught me what to do and what not to do while communicating to a customer or client.
Shanda - 8-May-13 @ 1:38 PM
It is a good article which will help me get trough trouble at the job. But the author could have been more detailed and could have given more examples for each tip.
Bla - 8-May-13 @ 1:38 PM
i agree that you suppose to do everything possible for the costumer to be satisfied . At any job costumer satisfaction should be guranteed . If you lose a customer , you lose money . So do anything you can to please your customer to keep it.
j-hood - 8-May-13 @ 1:38 PM
This is a great article, I believe that what i've learned here will help me with a multitude of situations. Through this article, I learned that the best way to handle irate customers is by first listening closely, then next summarizing or saying the problem again, then apologize for the inconvenience and offer a solution.After reading this article I am confident that I will be able handle most irate customers.Thank you for your time and dedication to write such an article :)
Josh - 8-May-13 @ 1:37 PM
well i thought it was great but they should have gave it more detail
bambam - 8-May-13 @ 1:37 PM
I've seen some helpful ways to workout situations and how to be more appropriate during the time of the situation. Mainly it's all information that i know and im used to.
eric - 8-May-13 @ 1:37 PM
What i just read was wondeful it tought me what i need to do to handle an irate customer.
Tayda - 8-May-13 @ 1:35 PM
I really learned a more appropriate way to deal with irate callers. This article was spot on with its information.
Sosa - 8-May-13 @ 1:34 PM
This is a wonderful article. Through this article, I learned that the best way to handle irate customers is by first listening attentively, next recap or re-state the problem, then apologize and offer a solution.After reading this article I am confident that I can handle irate customers.Thank you
Danny - 7-May-13 @ 3:06 PM
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