Top Tips On Handling Customer Complaints

Share this page:
Customer complaints are one of the hottest topics these days. All managers over the world look for effective strategies and blueprints on how to handle customer complaints and related issues. Interestingly, even if you are the best company on the market, there is always a chance to achieve a bundle of customer complaints.

Nevertheless, experts have defined that complaints stem either from technical or human-related factors. However, during high competition in markets, companies need to figure out how to solve all types of issues, at the cost of fewer efforts. 

Incapacity to deal with customer complaints could easily become a snowball that destroys relationships. And this is the concern of every small and mid-sized business.

Source: FinancesOnline, Customer Service Statistic You Should Know

As you can see the reaction of a customer varies from short-time frustration to switching to another brand. Building business relationships is a long-period process, yet misunderstanding and mistakes can diminish even strong business relationships created by years of cooperation. 

Additionally, even small but frequent complaints, unless they achieve timely care, are negatively impacting your business. These side effects could harm your brand, image, trustworthy and ROI. 

Notice the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, customers become more sensitive to different types of problems they face with companies. If in previous years you could resolve issues with fewer efforts and the patience of customers was much more loyal, this was changed and gave companies small room for response.

Despite the fact that addressing all challenging complaints is not easy, that’s not true. There are ways to effectively address these issues and handle all customer’s complaints whatsoever. 

However, you can even turn complaints to your advantage and use them as part of your business strategy. After reading this material, you will define the ways to really change the mind of customers.

What is the nature of customer complaints?

Embrace the fact that no matter how good you are, complaints are inevitable. And here’s why. Complaints could be triggered by your company and staff or by accidents that are not under your control.

So what is the real nature of customer complaints? Customer complaints arise between a company and customers when they think a company failed to deliver value to some degree. 

Or it could be a delusional point of view from a customer that thinks about a company in this way. 

The real complaint indicates your company’s weak sides in delivering perceived value to customers and disservice that negatively affect customers’ lives. Moreover, you harm in some way the financial and emotional state of customers. 

It includes low quality of product and delivery issues. For example, you delivered the wrong product, and the return process will take some time. Or the quality of your product is very low in comparison to your promises about reliability.  

The other type of complaint is not so frequent, yet the tendency is present. This is the case when between company and customer prevail misunderstanding about products or processes. For instance, in a case, a customer ordered a product or service. Yet to do it successfully, a customer must type personal data and additional information.

Failure to do so causes the incapacity to make a purchase in this particular way. As a result, customers complain about it and think that the company is guilty of the situation.

To prevent customer leakage, both real and misunderstanding complaints should be addressed. And now you can easily handle both of them. 


How to analyze customer complaints

The analysis consists of defining, tracking, summarizing, and solving customer complaints.

When complaints arise around products and services, customers address them to your company. To be able to consciously address every type of complaint, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Has that happened previously, or is this a new kind of complaint?
  • Are there records about these complaints in my company?
  • What is the frequency of a particular type of complaint?
  • What are the main causes and effects of these kinds of complaints?
  • Are there similar complaints from a particular customer?   

Having answers to these questions will give you a big picture and improve your capacity to solve complaints by an order of magnitude. Collecting complaints is crucial for creating a template for future resolution. 

By this time, you can have a brief, but professional, view of the most challenging situations. And achieve the skill to observe the situation both from the seller's and customer's perspectives.


What are the most common customer complaints?

There is an old saying “The customer is always right”, actually that’s not true.

Product issues. The most frequent complaints regarding the low quality of a product or service companies delivered. That triggers a wave of real anger and a call to action from all customers over the world. 

In this case, the customer feels that the company badly cheated. Moreover, if issues don't address fast, customers think they have been created. Depending on the cost of products or services situations tend to escalate even to government agencies. 

Delivery issues. Expectations about delivery are always aiming towards the exact date. Thus customers believe that you’re capable to deliver products on due dates. If for some reason, products haven’t arrived at the exact time that causes a serious complaint. 

In the minds of people, it says: “Wait, you said that the product will be on October 20, so why I don't receive it?”. Just as in the case of a low-quality product, there are no excuses in the mind of people. The effect might be the same as in the case of the low quality of a product. 

You can face only two types of complaints, and these are either direct or indirect. 

Direct complaint to vendor. In this case, a customer will address you by calling, emailing, messaging, etc. Most of these complaints arise when the issue is valuable for a customer, and a large sum of money is involved.

Indirect complaints. In most cases, this type is a little sum of money involved and they don’t want another relationship with your company whatsoever. People think that this is a good way to influence a company, and they are right. Because of the power of social media, thus it’s an effective way to address complaints. 

Source: Do you have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer service complaints on social media, Statista

Escalation to government agencies. When customers are in despair, mainly when large sums of money are involved, they tend to escalate complaints to government agencies for aid. When all sources of influence are empty. 

Take a look at how issues about bank accounts tend to escalate to the level of the Financial Ombudsman in the UK.

Statistic: Number of complaints regarding current accounts in the United Kingdom (UK) From 2009/2010 to 2020/2021 | Statista

Source: Number of complaints regarding current accounts in the United Kingdom (UK) From 2009/2010 to 2020/2021, Statista


Now, that’s how it works in the US. 

Source: Number of consumer complaints relating to fraud lodged with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission from 2001 to 2020, Statista

In conclusion of this chapter, it's crucial to notice that when customers expire all sources of influence they start to use government authorities for the resolution. Thus it’s better to catch the moment to maintain good relationships if this is possible. 


Main strategies for handling customer complaints

The first and proven strategy to solve every complaint is to have complete data about a case. The data must include terms and conditions, actions, response to the request, amount of money involved in a process, and so on and so forth. 

The research of all these causes listed above gives a real picture of the situation and ideas for resolution. This research also gives the option to define the person responsible for the situation. As we mentioned above, customers are incapable of always being right. Sometimes it’s pretty and vice versa. 

When your knowledge about a complaint is encompassing, you need to create your own database to give agents the capacity to make rapid responses. 

You have the capacity to address your customers either with technical or human-related issues.

The technical issues include all hardware and software you use in your business to establish and back up your communication and response with customers. For instance:

Omnichannel contact center software. Increase your efficiency and customer experience by adding the option of applying for resolution through phone, chat, email, social media, and other sources of communication. 

Thus you restrain the support team from overwhelming phone calls and give the room to flow of resolution by achieving requests through comfortable for user sources of communication. 

The importance of multiple channels of communication is extremely valuable. Thus customers have a certain source of communication in a situation when they need help. Thus increase the speed of application and reduce the time for resolution. 

Agentless support. When you need to use the maximum capacity of technology and make them work for you. Use agentless functions such as interactive voice response system (IVR), SMS, and voicemail, for resolution. 

In the IVR function, you add the key-press mechanism for a particular solution to any conversations with agents whatsoever.

SMS gives the advantage to send a message on a customer’s phone with vital details about their purchase, delivery, and issue. 

Voicemail gives the capacity to send multiple voice messages to customers regarding a product. 

Imagine you do all the work such as advertise, inform and solve issues regarding your business without involving a single-live person in a process. The amazing part of agentless functions is that all agents in your company continue to work on their challenging assignments and all other work done by the software.  

Back up equipment. These days, communication systems and electricity could fail you, but this is never a concern of a customer. Customers want their services, and they want them right now. What can you do about it? Here are some tips:

  • To ensure 100% uptime communication and resolution, invest in hardware and inbound contact center software
  • Invest in portable generators to achieve 24/7 work in your office. 
  • Add an external phone number for customers that want to communicate with you when your primary number does not function.
  • Achieve the latest contact center software to reduce the work of agents by tenfold. The software grants absolutely maximum efficiency of calling, messaging, and responding.

Human-related strategies

Always listen

"Empty vessels make the most sound", once said Plato, one of the greatest Athenian philosophers. Thus never interrupt a customer while they’re talking to you. This is a huge mistake that can destroy all the business relationships that your company built over years. The solution is to listen reactively and sometimes proactively by asking questions. 

The other danger of interrupting is that you can lose the main concern of the person that is talking to you. And if you make these two mistakes in one conversation, that would be a step in the wrong direction. And you’ll start to lose empathy with the customer.

Agent’s empathy

People make a decision for emotional or financial purposes. And empathy is one of the issues that push the customer towards positive or negative solutions. The mistake of lack of empathy from the support team prevented generating billions of dollars over the globe. 

Customers feel that the person on the other side of a phone or computer doesn’t give a damn about the situation, and that’s hurt relationships.   

Take the responsibility

Sometimes customers are unfair to your business, and that’s a real concern of all executives over the globe. What should you do if a customer is not right in a situation? Actually, that’s pretty simple though. Since the main goal is to ensure business continuity with all customers in a company, you need to take responsibility. 

Taking responsibility means that you never use a passive voice in conversations with the customer. For instance, let’s say you answer a complaint like: “I’m sorry that the products have not been delivered, I look into it and call you back in an hour”

This is wrong to use the passive voice in a conversation. And the problem with the passive voice is that you do not take responsibility for the situation. 

Use active voice, and this sound as follows: “I’m sorry we have not been able to deliver products, I will look into it, and I will call you back within an hour”. Thus you take the responsibility for a conversation. Our advice is to forget to use a passive voice in conversations with customers.

Other examples of using active voice and passive voice, try to think about the difference: 

  • I’m sorry we have canceled the delivery (active voice);

  • I’m sorry the delivery has been canceled (passive voice);

  • We did not load the vehicle (active voice);

  • The vehicle has not been loaded (passive voice).

Thus using an active voice means you take responsibility and defuse a situation. 

Instead of this, try to emphasize with a person and understand the real state of mind. Just by saying: “I understand you and I would have the same concern in your place”, drastically reduce the strain of the situation and make your work much easier.

Have enough authority

The support team that handles a customer complaint must have enough authority to resolve particular technical, financial, or consulting issues or must rapidly put the application for the resolution. 

Knowledge and experience

An agent that interacts with a customer about a particular complaint must have enough knowledge for resolution. A person must be routed to a customer support team that has decent knowledge and experience and is able to resolve a particular issue.  

The best strategy of every company is to ensure business continuity, no matter what type of complaint they will achieve or address. Even, If there is a cause from the customer’s side. What matters is business relationships. 

Offer something in return. Delivering a poor value isn’t pleasant, but in your power to solve it. Try to give something in exchange for this situation. Offer a free service or discount. Offer first-class treatment without any additional cost. 

Forecast complaints

The best way to resolve issues is to forecast them. Knowing the precise periods when complaints could create a high volume of picks informs you about the necessity for preparation.


Training new skills and sharpening existing ones, must be on the agenda of a company. Because of regular training, newbies will study something new and valuable. In a mine time, experienced agents will re-sharp their skills and find new approaches to customers. 

Creating a FAQ and the knowledge base

FAQ is a valuable web resource for a company, where customers could go to find solutions regarding all of the aspects of a business. 

Ideally, through the years, a company must have the capacity to resolve any type of customer complaint. All of the issues must be observed, solved, highlighted, and placed in a company’s knowledge base for future rapid resolution. Thus companies create their own bases for internal usage to prevent long time-costly resolutions. Find out how your call center can benefit from using the knowledge base in our article.

Why customers' complaints are good for business

Customer complaints have a sharping effect on your business. It teaches everyone in a company to handle tough situations. Customers that resolved their complaints achieve confidence that they have chosen the right vendor. A resolution has a recovery effect on customers. They’re eager to stay with a company that solves their complaints. 

Moreover, customers are eager to deal with professionals capable to resolve their issues. Thus loyalty of customers largely depends on customer’s resolutions. You've just read about the most effective strategies and procedures for dealing with customer complaints of any kind. And now we want to talk about what it is all about. 

Voiptime Cloud is your advisor in the call center industry and more

The Voiptime Cloud company is responsible not only for articles like this. Actually, this is only a small part of our job. Our true expertise in contact center software with the capacity to operate on a global scale. We furnish small and mid-sized businesses with multichannel contact center software for more than a decade. They operate in highly competitive markets and are quite successful. If you want to know more about these companies check the reviews. Would you also like to be our partner and have top-notch contact center software? And that's pretty easy though. Just contact us via web chat to discuss details. Thank you.

Tanya Gonchar

Expert in call center process automation, Head of Marketing at Voiptime Cloud. Interested in customer service, B2B sales, marketing, business analysis.

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyse site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements. Read about how we use cookies in our Privacy Notice.

Customer Contact Central