The Dos and Don’ts of Handling Customer Complaints

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complaintThe way your company responds to customer complaints goes a long way to shaping how the public perceives you. Just look at my previous post: @Target Customer Service = Fail. Handle customer complaints properly, and you could be seen as a company that goes the extra mile to do the right thing and to ensure customer satisfaction. On the other hand, do the wrong thing when a customer complains, and you can sit back and watch your market share shrink.

How should you handle customer complaints?

  • Do: Listen closely to the complaint – Before you start quoting your company’s policy or trying to deflect blame, try actually listening to your customer’s complaint. Put yourself in their shoes for a change. Are they making a valid point? What are they asking for you to do to resolve it? And remember, if one customer is complaining about something, you can be sure they’re probably not the only one who has encountered this situation. Most customers don’t bother complaining because they don’t think it does any good. Instead, they just take their business elsewhere.
  • Don’t: Try to argue with your customer – Look, dealing with an upset customer is never fun, but you have to handle the situation professionally. This means you don’t need to get in an argument with your customer. Handling complaints isn’t about trying to win an argument. It’s about minimizing damage and trying to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Do: Use complaints as an opportunity to improve – Every complaint represents an opportunity for your company to improve. Look closely at every complaint you receive, and figure out what you can do to keep that situation from ever coming up again.
  • Don’t: Think losing one customer is no big deal – If you really were losing just one customer, then maybe it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But that’s not the reality. They used to say that upset customers would tell about a dozen other people about their poor experience. Well, with Twitter, blogs, forums, consumer complaint websites, and other online outlets, today’s disgruntled customer can tell thousands of people about their poor experience with your company. Never forget that.
  • Do: Be proactive in finding complaints – Speaking of customers venting their frustrations online, you should always know what’s being said about your company online. Monitor brand mentions with Google Alerts, Twitter alerts, Board Tracker, and other similar reputation management tools. When you find these complaints online, try to fix them if possible.
  • Don’t: Beat customers over the head with your company policy – Upset customers don’t want to listen to you quoting back your company policy to justify why you can’t help them. Sure, it’s important to have policies in place, but you can’t view every single situation in black-and-white terms. That’s when you end up losing the human element. Be reasonable, and be flexible.
  • Do: Go the extra mile to resolve your customer’s complaint – Remember earlier when I said “Most customers don’t bother complaining because they don’t think it does any good”? Well, you can be the exception. If there is anything you can do to make sure the customer walks away satisfied, do it. Here’s a tip: Ask the customer what they would like for you to do to resolve the situation. Chances are, they have already have an idea of what they think is a fair solution, and this helps to put the ball in their court.
  • Don’t: Make the same mistake more than once – Mistakes happen. It’s a part of doing business, but you should never make the same mistake twice. This might mean retraining employees or changing your policy, but by all means, do whatever it takes to avoid making the same mistake twice.

How do you respond when a customer complains? Leave a comment with your best tips.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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Thanks Mickie. I always do!


All guest complaints are not valid, sometimes they are outright lies. When this happens, I believe you should defend your product and respond accordingly otherwise people will believe the lies and accussations. Showing you’re concerned and offended is not a crime and will set the complaitant and readers straight.


Your blog helped me to write my assessment in the college. Thank you! 🙂


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