Why & How to Deal With Customer Complaints

Last Updated
August 22, 2009


It is a fact of business life that not all customers will be happy, even in the finest run businesses, problems, mistakes, or even bad luck can cause people to be dissatisfied with your products or service: hence ‘customer complaints’.

When people are unhappy, they will often complain. Many businesses tend to try and ignore complaints, or pass them off as irrelevant, however, if dealt with well, they can actually provide your business with a strong advantage.

The following is a look at some of the ways in which your customers might complain, and how you can deal with them, and turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one.

Types of Customer Complaints

(i) Letters

Letters are a very common form of complaint; they are generally seen as the most official way of complaining. This means that most customers will only use a letter of complaint where they feel there is a serious dissatisfaction, and where the business has a separate address for complaints or head office.

Letters have an advantage to your business, as they allow you time to look at a problem, solve it, and reply to the customer; hopefully ensuring they are satisfied enough to remain a customer.

(ii) Spoken Word to Employees

The most common form of complaint, particularly in retail businesses; is face to face with an employee (usually the front line staff). This could take the form of a passing word or gesture, and can be for small or large problems.

Typical comments include things such as: “This is not the first time…”, “I can’t believe that…” or even a ‘tut’ noise in a sentence. They are generally informal complaints or comments, only occasionally do they turn into full scale complaints.

Although there is no official complaint in most cases, spoken word comments c an provide information on the everyday problems that customers are experiencing, and provide an opportunity for your employees to solve these problems, both for these customers, and for future ones.

(iii) Phone Calls

These are another common form of complaint, generally used for informal minor complaints, but can also be used by a highly dissatisfied customer who does not wish to write. The frequency of phone complaints generally depends on how much your business uses the phone; a call centre will receive many more complaints than a basic office line.

Phone complaints allow you to look into a problem, but do not usually give you as much time to solve it as a letter or email.

(iv) Email

Emails are similar to letters; however they tend to describe smaller problems that are expected to be solved in a much quicker time. The number of email complaints you receive will depend mostly on how widely you use email, and whether there is a specific enquiry or complaints email address.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Why You Need to Listen to Customer Complaints
  3. How to Solve Customer Complaints
  4. How and Why to Encourage Customer Complaints
  5. Customer Complaints Summary
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