As an employer or manager you may receive complaints from employees regarding sexual harassment, issues in the workplace or other problems. Business owners also address complaints from customers regarding services, products and other problems regarding the company. To maintain the integrity of the company, an employer or manager will find that it is necessary to address complaints to improve the workplace and customer service.

Workplace Complaints

Discuss the complaint with the employee without judgment. If it involves another person, such as abusive behavior or sexual harassment, ask what happened and when it happened.

Ensure that you have posted a company policy regarding sexual harassment; the policy should include a statement advising workers that any complaints will not be tolerated and will be investigated.

Talk with the employee who is complaining and explain that the employee is free from retaliation and that you will investigate the alleged situation -- whether it is an imbalance of duties, harassment or problems with coworkers.

Take notes while you speak with the employee; write down any relevant facts about her complaint. Depending on your company policy and severity of the situation, you may ask that she make a formal complaint in writing.

Tell anyone else involved in the complaint that a complaint has been filed and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. Ask that each party be patient while an investigation is underway.

Investigate the complaint. For instance, if the employee is concerned that he does not have enough hours to satisfy required workload, ask that he complete a report to outline how he is spending his time. If the complaint is regarding sexual harassment, interview others who may have witnessed the alleged abuse and listen to each person involved.

Take information you have received from your investigation of the complaint and reach a decision. Consulting with human resources, your company’s lawyer or others may be necessary, depending on the complaint.

Take appropriate action and make decisions about the complaint, such as giving the person more hours, negotiating the conflict in the workplace, or firing an employee as needed. Maintain documentation regarding the complaint in the employee’s personnel file.

Customer Service Complaints

Take the complaint from the customer and read or listen to the customer without judgment.

Determine whether a specific employee was responsible for the complaint. For instance, if the customer called the company to ask about a product and the employee was allegedly abrupt or rude, ask if she took the employee’s name down.

Assure that you will take proper measures with the employee to reduce the chance of such a situation happening again and apologize for the treatment received.

Ask what was wrong with the product or service the customer received.

Apologize to the customer; let him know you regret that he didn't receive a working product or a product as described.

Offer the customer a refund, exchange, repair or other option based on your company’s policies.

Follow-up with the customer if he requested an exchange or repair to make sure that everything is in working order. Thank him for his order and invite him back to your business.


Avoid berating employees and customers when listening to their complaints.