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How to Handle a Customer Complaint

When one of your customers complains, handle it by giving that customer — and his or her complaint — your full attention so that you can resolve the issue. Here are the best steps to take when dealing with a customer complaint in your business.

  1. Listen to the problem.

    Let the customer rant, preferably out of earshot of others. Don’t argue. Don’t make excuses or blame others. If your business is at fault, apologize. If you’re not sure, give the customer the benefit of the doubt, within reason. Protect the relationship, the possibility of future business, and the chance for future positive word-of-mouth.

  2. Take action.

    Offer options to allow the customer some control over the outcome. Say what you can do, not what you can’t do. Refunds or exchanges may fix the problem, but only personal service will repair a relationship.

  3. Follow up.

    Call the customer to see that the problem was adequately resolved to the customer’s complete satisfaction.

  4. Fix your business.

    Revamp systems, if necessary. Ask yourself whether you can eliminate the fault that led to the complaint. Also determine whether you addressed the customer's complaint promptly and well.

Dissatisfied customers complain to dozens of friends and post disparaging messages that reach thousands of others online, but a complaint well handled repairs itself, circumvents potential damage, and results in an even stronger customer relationship.

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