Turning a complaint into an opportunity

6 tips to help you turn the situation around:


As the service provider, how we handle a call initially can determine the customer’s response. Many of us have had poor experiences of having complaints dealt with so will prepare and mentally ‘psyche’ ourselves up when we have to make a complaint.

Thank the customer for contacting you. Allow them to vent their feelings and reassure them that you are there to help. Customers usually calm down when they feel ‘heard’.

Stay calm throughout

It can feel as though a client is personally attacking you if they are raising their voice or criticising service given. It is a normal response to react emotionally but the best course of action is to remain calm and curious. You might learn something from the call that can help other customers.

In addition, there may be other pressures on the client, that we are unaware of, which may be causing them to react differently.

Gather all the details

Put yourself in their position – how would you feel? Acknowledge their complaint with empathy rather than apologising: “I’m sorry this has been so frustrating for you”.

Make notes and check your understanding of the problem by quickly giving the client a precis of the issue, as you understand it.

Offer a solution

Let the customer know what you plan to do and when you will report back to them. Decide what action(s) you can promise, whether you need to investigate further or whether you need to pass this on to someone else. If you promise to follow something up, do it.

Some companies ask the client what solution they’d like, which can be useful where there are multiple courses of action.

Thank the customer

It may be that other customers have experienced this issue before but not mentioned it. Customer feedback helps improve service for all customers and gives your business the opportunity to improve.

Keep a record of all complaints and actions taken. This may help to identify trends.

Finally, monitor social media

Customers experiencing poor service, which hasn’t been resolved to their satisfaction, often vent on social media. It’s important to monitor social media for mentions of your business name and key personnel, and to react quickly. Contacting the customer in person is often better than having an online exchange of grievances, although you should always respond to a complaint online once resolved rather than leave it unanswered publicly.

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