How to handle customer complaints: 14 steps (with pictures)

How to handle customer complaints: 14 steps (with pictures)
How to handle customer complaints: 14 steps (with pictures)

Having happy customers is the key to a successful business. However, there are times when customers complain about certain aspects of your management. By dealing with their complaints and following up, you can keep your customers happy and minimize the risk of losing some customers through bad press or word-of-mouth.


Part 1 of 2: Deal with the complaint

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Step 1. Take a deep breath and let go of the emotions

When a customer complains, you might think it's an attack. But it is essential that you stay calm and put your emotions aside in order to properly deal with the complaint in question. Before you meet or have a discussion with the person, take a deep breath to calm yourself down and remove any emotion.

  • Let your composure guide the client as much as possible. He is less likely to explode his anger if you keep your cool.
  • Avoid making him wait too long, as this may piss him off even more. Taking two deep breaths should be enough to calm you down.
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Step 2. Introduce yourself

Once you decide to meet with the client or they pick up your phone call, be sure to introduce yourself in a friendly manner. Indeed, the fact that there is a person ready to listen to his complaint can help reassure him.

  • Keep your presentation simple. For example, you could say this: “Hello Mr. Bernard, I am Christophe the owner of this shop and I fully understand this unpleasant experience that you want to share with me. "
  • Keep a friendly and caring tone to help reassure the person that your only desire is to deal with their complaint.
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Step 3. Listen to the whole complaint

Since your client called you with a complaint, resolve the issue after your presentation. Listen to him until he is sure that you have taken his complaint sincerely and seriously.

Allow the customer to fully explain their complaint without interrupting

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Step 4. Apologize and sympathize

After you've listened to the entire customer complaint, it's time to go directly to them. Apologize and sympathize with him to show him that you understand how he is feeling.

  • Apologize for the bad experience before you say anything else. For example, you can say this: “Mr. Bernard, I apologize to you for this unpleasant experience you have just had. "
  • Put yourself in his shoes and show sympathy. For example, you could say this: “Mr. Bernard, I understand that you are upset and I will do my best to help you. "
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Step 5. Rephrase the complaint and ask questions

Before you can effectively deal with the customer's complaint, you must have a clear understanding of it. Rephrase the complaint in question and ask questions so that you can better understand the situation.

  • Show again that you understand the problem by rephrasing what the customer said. It can also reassure him that you have listened to him carefully and that you take him seriously. Say this: "May I ask you a few questions to better understand the situation?" "
  • Ask any questions that come to mind to get the details of their complaint or the situation at hand. Try not to challenge him and be sure to maintain a caring demeanor.
  • Take notes to remind yourself of the situation the client went through.
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Step 6. Thank and reassure him

Make sure to thank your client for their ideas and for answering your questions. Reassure him that you will deal with his problem in a timely manner and come to a solution. This way, you can show them that you take their concern seriously and that you genuinely care about the needs of your customers.

  • Remember the phrase kill them gently. You may also remember the adage you don't catch flies with vinegar, but with honey.
  • Thank them for contacting you. For example, you could say this: “Thank you for taking the time to share this experience with me, Mr. Bernard. "
  • Reassure them by telling them that you will personally take care of the complaint and follow it up. For example, you could say this, “I'll find out what happened and get back to you tomorrow morning. I'm sure we can fix this. "
  • Ask them if they have any questions for you and answer them.
  • You can say this, "What can I do that would be an acceptable solution to you?" "You don't have to offer an immediate solution, but you can still reassure the customer by saying" Thank you, Mr. Bernard, I will take this into account when investigating the situation. "
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Step 7. Confirm the details of the follow-up

Develop a plan with the client to follow up on their complaint. This can help reassure them and remember to deal with the complaint quickly.

  • Ask when and where you can contact him.
  • Let him know that you took notes and that you have made time to discuss the resolution of the problem with him.
  • Leave a note in a prominent place to minimize the risk of forgetting to follow up.

Part 2 of 2: Follow up with your client

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Step 1. Investigate the complaint

Before reaching a constructive solution, consider the situation based on the description of the events. Get up close with other employees, read correspondence, or watch CCTV tapes to get a clear picture of the situation.

  • Try to get the employee's perspective on what happened. They may have been directly involved or witnessed the event and may be able to provide further details.
  • Read all correspondence related to the complaint or listen to messages from the customer. Watch CCTV recordings if necessary.
  • Be sure to pass the complaint on to your supervisors. A superior may decide to deal with the complaint to satisfy the customer.
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Step 2. Suggest an acceptable solution

As soon as you have a clearer picture of the situation, find a solution that is satisfactory to everyone. If a manager or the client disagrees, consider other solutions.

Offer to remedy the situation if possible. Otherwise, offer an alternative. For example, if a customer has been poorly served in your restaurant, offer them a free meal and hire a waiter that everyone likes

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Step 3. Contact him

Call the customer or write to him specifying the solution you offer to his complaint. Thus, you show him how serious and sincere you are about his complaints and that you want to retain him.

  • Contact him as soon as possible, ideally within one day. Try to contact him the same day or before. Keeping him waiting can irritate him even more.
  • Thank him again for contacting you. For example, you can say this: “Mr. Bernard, I just wanted to thank you again for contacting me about your bad experience. I fully understand how much this bothers you and I promise you that such a situation will not happen again. "
  • Tell the customer that your company does manage to deal with a lot of customers each year and that it enjoys an excellent reputation for your dedication to customers.
  • Have a little chat before you come up with your solution. This will help defuse the situation and calm you both down. You could ask him about the weather or about a sporting event that has happened since your last conversation.
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Step 4. Submit your solution

Once you've broken the ice, gently offer your solution to the customer. Remember to maintain a warm and sincere tone so that he knows that you are paying close attention to his complaint and its resolution.

  • Tell him that you investigated the complaint in question and that you regret that he had this negative experience.
  • Let her know the solution you found and give her a second to think about it. You can say this to him, "Is that okay with you?" "
  • Offer him another solution if he doesn't like the one you suggested. Have a maximum of two solutions and make them acceptable to you.
  • Listen to all of his other concerns to make him feel useful.
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Step 5. Thank him again

Your client may feel a little embarrassed that you have created a fuss. Thank him again for his complaint and let him know that you are available if he needs further help.

Let him know how much you appreciate him and how happy you are to have done business with him

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Step 6. Learn to move on

Even if the situation was initially negative, you can use it to learn from it. Consider the process that enabled you to resolve the customer's concern as an effective way to deal with complaints in the future. Don't dwell on it either, as most companies get complaints from time to time, some of which have nothing to do with management or the job.

Discuss the situation with employees and co-workers to help them learn from the experience as well

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Step 7. Contact your customer again

After some time, consider getting in touch with your customer to make sure the problem was resolved. Thus, you show that you appreciate his collaboration and learn to deal with any potential problem.

  • Call or email him with a message like this: “I don't want to bother you, but it's just to make sure you are happy with the solution to your complaint. "
  • Chat with him to see if everything is going well and say, "See you again." "
  • At the same time try to resolve any other complaints she might have, but be aware that some people regularly complain just to get free products or services.

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