Customer satisfaction: how to deal with complaints properly Published: 24/07/2020 | by Star Trader

Customer satisfaction: how to deal with complaints properly

Knowing how to deal with customer complaints properly is an important part of owning a business. Why? Because it only takes one bad review from a disgruntled customer for your business to suffer. The more bad reviews you receive, the harder it’ll be for your business to recover. Don’t let this happen to you. Follow our tips on how to create the perfect customer complaints procedure.

Are good customer reviews really that important?

Absolutely, particularly for online-only marketplaces and businesses who rely heavily on their online reviews. BrightLocal, who offer one of the best local marketing tools for business owners, are big advocates of online reviews. In December 2019, they released the results of their Local Consumer Research Survey and the statistics were eye-opening to say the least.

From the survey, BrightLocal found that 93% of consumers agreed that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions and that 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

But it’s not just about the reviews themselves; it’s also about how you respond to those reviews, whether they’re good or bad. The results of the survey found that 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, which shows how important it is to reply – especially when you’re dealing with customer complaints. 

And remember, a timely reply is just as important as a response altogether; today, there’s nowhere to hide, as a business’ response time is judged. Facebook even includes response time as a feature on business pages, where response times are marked by hours/days, so online users can see there and then whether or not a business is good at responding to queries. 

So, how do you respond to a customer complaint properly?

If an unhappy customer has taken the time to leave a bad review, you need to address it – and fast. If a potential customer sees that your business has received a bad review and you haven’t bothered to reply, they’ll think you don’t care and will probably go elsewhere. Responding to complaints shows professionalism, but only if you get it right.

Here are some important things to remember when responding to complaints:


1. Don’t take things personally

It can be hard, especially as it’s your business that’s receiving criticism, but it’s important not to take things personally. No one is perfect, so mistakes are bound to happen from time to time. Now, it’s about how you overcome those issues and move on. 


2. Don’t be abrupt and always apologise 

When responding to complaints, it’s important to always apologise – even if the customer is partly at fault. Although you may feel disheartened as a business owner when you see a bad review on your website or complaint appear in your inbox, don’t let it get to you. Remain positive and avoid being rude or abrupt at all costs. 


3. Thank the customer for their feedback

It’s important to make sure the customer feels valued. Thanking them for taking the time to leave feedback, albeit negative, is a good way to do so. Plus, it helps to get you back on friendly terms with them. If you’re appreciative and polite, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate those feelings. 


4. Put together a plan of action 

Think about how you’re going to resolve the issue:

  • Could you offer them a discount code to use next time? 
  • Could you send them a free gift to apologise?
  • Could you offer them a full refund for their troubles? 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure the customer is aware of your plan. Remember to give as much information as possible; the more the customer feels informed and listened to, the better. 


5. If required, follow-up

After responding to customer complaints, you’ll need to provide customers with an update – especially if their issue couldn’t be resolved straight away. 

Here are some top tips for following up with disgruntled customers:

  • Don’t forget – Add a reminder to your diary to receive an alert
  • Inform them – Let them know what you’ve done to resolve the problem
  • Reassure them – Let the customer know this won’t happen again
  • Leave on a good note – Apologise again for the inconvenience
  • Keep in touch – Encourage them to get in touch if they have any other problems or questions


6. Make use of the feedback

Don’t just respond to the complaint – use the feedback to improve your business. Think about what changes you can implement to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And feel free to let the customer know that they’ve helped you to make a positive change in your business. 


Putting together a customer complaints procedure can help your business – here’s how:

Every complaint is different, but the way in which you deal with them should be consistent. A customer complaints procedure can help to make sure everyone in your business follows the same structure when it comes to handling customer complaints – a must if your employees need to brush up on their skills in this area. 

A good customer complaints procedure should provide step-by-step guidance on how to deal with complaints. If you haven’t got a procedure in place for your business yet, here’s an example of what it could look like:


Step 1 – Listen to the complaint: 

  • Accept ownership
  • Apologise
  • Be understanding and remain calm
  • Take responsibility to resolve the issue
  • Thank the customer for taking the time to get in touch


Step 2 – Log the complaint:

  • Make sure you have all the facts
  • Ask questions if necessary
  • Record the complaint


Step 3 – Start to resolve the issue:

  • Speak to the relevant staff member(s)
  • Discuss options for fixing the problem
  • Put together an action plan
  • Act quickly and keep your promises


Step 4 – Update or respond to the customer:

  • As soon as a resolution is found, respond to the customer
  • If the problem is going to take a while to fix, update them
  • Don’t set yourself up for failure; underpromise to overdeliver 


For staff members who follow your customer complaints procedure successfully and have proven themselves to be good at responding to customer complaints, you could think about introducing a reward scheme.

Not only will this encourage staff to do better and provide good customer service for your business, it’ll also show potential customers that you’re doing everything you can to ensure they have a positive experience with your business. 


Don’t just take our word for it, though – learn from the best

When it comes to providing fantastic customer service, some companies are going the extra mile – and Twitter seems to be the place to do so. Just check out these examples of good customer service situations:


1. Adobe

When this brand experienced a major outage, they posted a rather cheerful update on Twitter before they’d even started to receive customer complaints. The post included a cute puppy video, which helped to distract and lighten the mood. In fact, many of the replies were in response to the cute video, as opposed to complaining about the outage itself. 


2. Spotify

Through their customer service handle on Twitter (@SpotifyCares), the Spotify team does things a little differently. After responding to queries or complaints, they often end conversations with a link to an appropriate song. They’re also prone to wowing online customers by making unique playlists as responses to their Tweets. 

Permanently, forever. ? — Spotify really cares ahahah √ ♥ >> Here's the  link...


3. O2

Remember when O2 gave one of its customers free pizza for a year? Dan, from Essex, was disheartened after he missed out on one of O2’s competitions to win free pizza and decided to head to Twitter to let the world know about his disappointment. He even threatened to become a Three customer as a result. Of course, O2 couldn’t watch this happen and stepped in before it was too late.

What can you learn from these examples of good customer service situations? 

  • Adobe: It’s always worthwhile to address an issue as soon as you're aware of it, even if your customers aren’t aware of it yet. 
  • Spotify: A personalised message is always preferred when responding to complaints – it makes customers feel recognised. 
  • O2: Always go above and beyond to retain your customers, especially if they’re considering going elsewhere.


How to write a response to a complaint

Now that you know what things to consider when receiving customer complaints, what a customer complaints procedure is, and what some of the leading brands are doing to provide unbeatable customer service, it’s time to write. 

To help you, we’ve put together a quick, easy-to-follow customer complaint response letter:


Hi <Name>,

I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. 

I have made an official record of your complaint and our team is working hard to find a resolution for you. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Unfortunately, as I need to wait for our team to investigate this further, I don’t have an answer as to why this has happened at the moment. However, as soon as I receive an update, I will be in touch with you to provide you with a full explanation. 

Until then, please be assured that we’re taking your complaint very seriously. 

If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, feel free to get back in touch with me directly or give us a call. 

Apologies again and thank you for your patience.


<Business/ Employee Name>


What next?

Take all of our tips on board and you’ll have your customer complaints procedure down to a T. Remember to pass your new-found wisdom on to your employees, so they can offer a consistent customer service that you’d be proud of. Good luck!


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