Proven Techniques to Deal with Customer Complaints

For small business owners (and for large ones too) customer complaints is a fact of life. Every business runs into few customers who are not happy with the service or product or something else. The complaints in and of themselves are not going to hurt your business much. It is how you deal with them that determines how they will impact your future business.
We have heard many business owners say – “but I know that this customer is wrong. He/she is just trying to get free stuff or get discount by complaining and making a scene.” And they may be right; but does it really matter who is right or who is wrong? At the end of the day, it is about who has the power to hurt your future business. It is these customers who are complaining – genuine or sham.
So, is there anything you, as a small business owner, can do to alleviate this problem? Obviously, you cannot stop customers from complaining; although you can reduce the number of genuine complaints by providing excellent products and services. Based on our experience in running multiple restaurants we have come up with these guidelines to deal with customer complaints and mitigate their impact on the business.

  1. Listen and nod – Most customers who are complaining want to be listened. Many times business owners make a mistake of not listening to the complete story and get into trouble. It is amazing; but just the act of listening to customer complaints will calm the aggravated customer and make him feel valued.
  2. Do NOT argue – This is the most common mistake small business owners make when dealing with irate customer. They start arguing with them. This only makes the situation worse. The customer is already unhappy with your business and arguing with him will only make him defend his position more and make situation worse. Those who have been in argument with spouse or girlfriend can relate to this!! We argued in an earlier post that small business owners should adopt a poker face for this reason.
  3. Offer to fix the problem – Many times just acknowledging the problem and offering to fix it will make the customer happy. Our recommendation is to listen, acknowledge and ask the customer – “what can I do to address your complain?” It’s as easy as that.
  4. Offer concessions – In addition to fixing the problem, you should go beyond their expectations and offer a discount or concession towards their next purchase. Do you see how this can turn the bad situation on its head? You have not only made the irate customer happy; but managed to make him come back to your business again. Just make sure he doesn’t get opportunity to complain again when he comes back!
  5. Keep track of Complaints – Many times customers complain just because they can or they want to get stuff for free. In fact we showed in an earlier post how to identify these “bad” customers. That’s why it is important that you keep track of these complaints. This will not only help you weed out these bad customers; but also provide you the opportunity to analyze the complaints and identify and remove the systemic problems that might be hurting your business.

What is your experience in dealing with customer complaints? Any recommendations for others?

Image Courtesy:   soamplified


  1. […] Proven Techniques to Deal with Customer Complaints | Angel … […]