10 Best Practices for Navigating Customer Complaints

10 Best Practices for Navigating Customer Complaints

Navigating the choppy waters of customer complaints is an art mastered by few, but crucial for all. Drawing from the wisdom of business owners and Directors of Customer Relations, we’ve distilled the essence of ten best practices. From valuing negative feedback as a learning opportunity to employing the “Heard” technique for complaints, discover how to turn dissatisfaction into loyalty.

  • Value Negative Feedback as Learning
  • Empathize and Collaborate with Customers
  • Follow-Up After Resolving Complaints
  • Offer Complimentary Tools as Remedy
  • Use Emotional Intelligence to Address Feedback
  • Respond Publicly with Context and Improvement
  • Negotiate Win-Win Solutions
  • Remain Calm and Professionally Analyze Feedback
  • Offer a Full Refund
  • Employ the “Heard” Technique for Complaints

Value Negative Feedback as Learning

The customer isn’t always right, but they always have something to teach us. We value all feedback, especially the negative feedback. Each bit of negative feedback allows us to improve. Taking a curious approach in conversations with the client has proven really useful for us. What is their concern? Where do they need help? How can we be that solution? Where did we drop the ball?

Lewis VandervalkLewis Vandervalk
Owner, Blue Crocus Solutions

Empathize and Collaborate with Customers

Being the Product Manager of an attendance-tracking software solution, I have had to deal with complaining customers or negative feedback on several occasions.

Overall, the number one tip I can give is to be empathetic with your customers and not get defensive about your product. It is better to assume that the customer is right and get proven incorrect than the other way around. Listen to the feedback the customers are giving you, try to identify what the specific problem is, and then work together with your customer to solve it.

Ultimately, often all the customers want is for their problem with your product to be solved in some way, so they are likely to want to cooperate with you. If need be, offer them some sort of compensation for their troubles. This is the way you’ll be able to resolve the conflict while keeping a good and strong relationship with your customer.

Nicolas MontaubanNicolas Montauban
Product Manager, Attendance Radar

Follow-Up After Resolving Complaints

At Kualitee, we handle customer complaints by actively listening, acknowledging the issue, and swiftly resolving it.

Our key practice is the “Follow-Up” method, where we check back with the customer after resolving their complaint to ensure their satisfaction and gather feedback. This demonstrates our commitment to their satisfaction, helps maintain strong customer relationships, and often converts negative experiences into positive outcomes, reinforcing trust and loyalty.

Khurram MirKhurram Mir
Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kualitee

Offer Complimentary Tools as Remedy

When faced with customer complaints or negative feedback, our priority is to ensure the customer feels truly heard. We go the extra mile by offering them complimentary access to one of our tools for a period of time. This gesture not only addresses their immediate concerns but also reinforces our commitment to their satisfaction and strengthens our relationship moving forward.

Justin SilvermanJustin Silverman
Founder & CEO, Merchynt

Use Emotional Intelligence to Address Feedback

Everything is online these days, and businesses are more exposed than ever to public scrutiny, where a single review can significantly impact reputation. However, through my extensive experience in digital marketing, I’ve learned that emotional intelligence is a powerful tool not only for mitigating the effects of negative feedback but also for using these moments to demonstrate commitment, responsiveness, and a continuous pursuit of excellence.

Understanding that every critique presents an opportunity for growth, my approach prioritizes acknowledging valid concerns with empathy and professionalism. This perspective is critical for two reasons: first, it shows current and potential customers that their feedback is valued and taken seriously, fostering a culture of trust and open communication. Second, it illustrates a proactive stance toward improvement, demonstrating that we are not static companies but are constantly trying to meet and exceed expectations.

Addressing negative feedback effectively involves a transparent outline of steps taken to rectify any issues, reinforcing a commitment to service excellence. The thing to remember here is that it’s not about winning back the dissatisfied customer but about projecting a positive image to future clients who will appreciate a brand that listens, learns, and leads with integrity.

It’s about building a resilient brand image that stands the test of time and variability in customer experiences. It acknowledges the reality that a perfect 5-star score is unattainable, but excellence is always within reach through continuous effort and genuine engagement.

Claire JarrettClaire Jarrett
Founder, Jarrett Digital Ltd.

Respond Publicly with Context and Improvement

For any business, negative reviews and feedback are part of standard operations; however, how the complaints are dealt with can be a major indicator of the quality that a company places on their relationships with customers—a company that is willing to respond and make improvements builds and maintains trust more quickly and with fewer hiccups than one that doesn’t.

Online review systems, such as Trustpilot or Google Reviews, give customers an easy way of providing public feedback about a company. These often lack context, so the first thing to do is reply, acknowledging there was a problem and providing context. While you might not win back the trust of the reviewer, the way you respond and show that you take the criticism on board to improve can win you more trust and more customers.

Elliot RushtonElliot Rushton
Freelance Marketer, EPR Marketing

Negotiate Win-Win Solutions

On the rare occasions that I receive customer complaints (mostly because of how the courier handled our products, and not of the product’s quality itself), I see to it that the customer and I come to a common resolution that would benefit both of us.

If it’s the courier’s fault (third-party), I explain to the customer that the fault came from the shipping company and whatever happened was out of our hands. However, I do not just leave it at that—I negotiate with the customer and let them know that I will give them a discount (or offer a freebie) the next time they make another purchase.

This way, the customer will not be left with a sour experience but will actually look forward to making another purchase with us. This is a win-win strategy for both us and our customers.

Joanna C.Joanna C.
Founder and Owner, The Millennial VA

Remain Calm and Professionally Analyze Feedback

An amazing way to handle customer complaints or negative feedback to ensure a positive resolution and maintain a strong customer relationship is to remain calm, analyze the complaint/feedback, and respond in a professional, timely manner.

While this may seem like a pretty general explanation and is promoted through most businesses, following those three steps exactly for every difficult customer complaint or negative feedback will save a company, their client relationship, and their reputation. Even if the customer or feedback is extremely harsh and ill-mannered for no reason, it’s important that every employee and manager remain calm and collected to start.

Most customer complaints and negative feedback stem from poor emotional responses from employees in a heated scenario with said customers. It is then important to analyze exactly what the customer is complaining about and to immediately see if you or someone else can solve the issue or improve their next experience with your business!

Chris HunterChris Hunter
Director of Customer Relations, ServiceTitan

Offer a Full Refund

We will always issue a full refund, regardless of how many credits or how much usage the customer has used. I will then always offer to jump on a call to talk about what went wrong and what would need to change to fix the situation. I’m there to listen, not to make amends. It’s not my job to try and get them back. It’s my job to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Tim HansonTim Hanson
Cco, Penfriend

Employ the “Heard” Technique for Complaints

When addressing customer complaints or negative feedback, I prioritize employing the ‘heard’ technique, a customer service best practice. This comprehensive approach involves actively listening to the customer’s concerns (hearing), demonstrating empathy and understanding (empathizing), offering a sincere apology (apologizing), promptly resolving the issue (resolving), and investigating the root cause to prevent recurrence (diagnosing).

By following this method, I ensure that customers feel heard, valued, and respected, regardless of the situation. This proactive approach not only facilitates the transformation of negative experiences into positive ones but also strengthens customer relationships and fosters loyalty.

By prioritizing the needs and concerns of customers, I aim to uphold a high standard of service and satisfaction, ensuring long-term success for both the customer and the business.

Travis WillisTravis Willis
Director of Customer Success, Aspire

Submit Your Answer

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