How to Handle a Customer Complaint

by Prisca Rollins; Updated September 26, 2017

In business, a customer complaint can affect the reputation of the business and needs to be handled appropriately. If you have several customers that have a bad experience, and the business chooses to ignore it or do nothing you will not only lose that business, but also the business of everyone they know. If a person has sent in a complaint by mail or by email and she receives a form letter response, it can increase dissatisfaction; the customer wants to be heard. Address a customer’s complaint individually. There is a process that can be used to ensure customer complaints are handled effectively. This creates a relationship where the customer feels valued and returns in future.

Step 1

Apologize to the customer and refer specifically to the complaint. Apologizing shows that you acknowledge the complaint and are genuinely sorry for the issue. This should be done in your own words and with compassion. If you give a detailed response to the customer complaint, it also shows that you have put thought into the issue and have not brushed off the complaint as trivial.

Step 2

Acknowledge the complaint as soon as it is received, whether a complaint is done in person or by mail and email. If it is in person, listen to the person’s complaint without interruption. If it is by mail or email, send a response via letter or email telling the person you have received the complaint and will be in contact shortly.

Step 3

Explain to the customer what you are doing to make it right. Don’t make up excuses for a mistake that your business has made. Customers don’t care about how it happened. Customers only care about what you are going to do to fix it. If you show that you are willing to fix a problem, you are more likely to satisfy them and continue doing business with them.

Step 4

Tell them that future business is very important to you. Always provide the customer a way to reach you by phone or with your email address. Ask for their feedback on the way they handled the complaint and include a gift certificate asking for another chance to do business with them. Follow up on your email or letter. Ask the customer if they have been back in the store and what the experience was.

Step 5

Write up the complaint. Include when you received the complaint, how the complaint was handled and any follow up contact you had with the customer. Include what can be done to avoid this complaint in the future. The more information you can include, the better able you will be to manage the complaint if it happens again.

About the Author

Prisca Rollins majored in accounting in college and minored in business. She was a Vet and Surgical Tech in the Army and a contractor with the US Army as an Admin and Marketing Coordinator overseas. Rollins is TESOL certified and has taken the PHR and Life, Health and Annuity Insurance Course.