Customer complaints come in the form of angry emails, harsh online comments, awkward face-to-face contacts, negative tweets, or unexpected phone calls. It can be difficult to hear, but customer complaints are due to you, your product, employees, or service not delivering the expected results. Dealing with customer complaints, while hard, is also an essential part of doing business and must be handled with professionalism. Next, we'll provide a step-by-step process on how to deal with customer complaints, introduce you to Flowrite's customer complaint reply email template and give you a sample email reply to a customer complaint.
How to deal with customer complaints
Customer complaints can be expressed through different mediums. Each of them communicates a different level of frustration and requires a unique approach to dealing with the problem. That said, building and relying on a roadmap to deal with these complaints is a necessary starting point. From there, you should customize these best practices for each customer interaction. Below is the process we recommend when responding to customer complaints in writing, such as emails or messages across various channels.
1. Read the customer complaint carefully
When faced with a customer complaint, your first task is to understand the problem and focus on the customer's experience. Whether the fuss is about a price increase, service interruption, or any other reason, it's easy to become defensive or write off a complaint when a customer expresses their dissatisfaction. However, you should remember that customer complaints rarely exist in a vacuum. If one client comes to you with this complaint, several others will be silent on the same client. Complaints from customers should always be considered legitimate. So give full attention and empathy to their stories; they are one of the most prestigious opportunities for you to improve your customer satisfaction.
2. Take time to process the criticism
Some feedback may hit hard. It's not easy to admit that you've let customers down, but getting to the root of the problem is an essential step in dealing with complaints. When you receive a complaint in writing, you have more time to understand where your customers are coming from than receiving this criticism in real-time in person or over the phone. Take advantage of this time, put yourself in the customer's shoes, and digest the email or message instead of rushing to reply. It will allow your emotions to cool down and start to write a response in a professional tone – something Flowrite's tone selector can take care for you.
3. Make an action plan to deal with the complaint
Unhappy customers can be commonplace for any business, so chances are you'll know how to deal with complaints almost immediately after digesting the details behind the problem. However, as you know, sometimes the complaint goes entirely beyond the left-field, and you don't know how to respond. If you need some time to consider the best course of action, the best practice is, to be honest with your customers. Simply tell them you need time to figure out how to best deal with the issue and provide a timeline for when you'll be looking for a solution. Or better yet, ask the customer how they would like the complaint to be resolved and assess if their ask is feasible.
4. Thank the customer for their feedback
We've mentioned this idea in our blog posts many times. Still, it can't be emphasized enough: You'll never hear about the most customers who have complaints about your business. This leaves you completely unaware of how your customers feel and how satisfied they are. So, when responding to a customer complaint, the first thing you should say is "thank you for letting me know" or "thank you for your feedback".
No law requires customers to share their feedback with your company. Some clients feel uncomfortable dealing with issues and would rather ignore them or stop doing business with you entirely. Feedback often contains information that can fundamentally improve your customer experience. So even if the customer complaint doesn't make you feel good at the time, you should still thank your customer for their insight.
5. Apologize and demonstrate that you understand the problem
After thanking the client, you should immediately apologize for what happened and show empathy by explaining your understanding of the situation. For example, suppose an account manager working on an e-commerce platform receives an email from a customer stating that the store got their order wrong. The reply to this kind of complaint should begin with thanking the customer for sharing their feedback, apologizing for the problem, explaining what caused the issue, and understanding how the problem affects the customer. The customer should now know that the business understands the complaint and values his business and feedback.
6. Explain your plan to remedy the issue
Without explaining what occurs next, a response to a consumer complaint is insufficient. When dealing with consumer concerns, it's best to go above and beyond as it's cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one. After you've apologized and shown that you understand where the customer is coming from, you should outline how you plan to compensate the customer for their problem – and how your business will improve in the future to prevent the issue from occurring again. As the customer now has more information about the issue, knows how their complaint is dealt with, and what you'll do to avoid it from happening again, they are much more likely to keep doing business with you. They are also encouraged to share their feedback with you in the future.
7. Remember to thank the customer again and offer information for follow-up
In case you've followed our advice until this step, you should have adequately addressed the complaint, and your customer likely feels that the problem has been resolved. Next, thank the customer for contacting you and provide any necessary follow-up information or instructions if the customer needs to contact you again. This is especially important if the customer makes a complaint in public, for example, on social media. So consider leaving the name and email address of the right person to speak with if the customer needs to discuss the complaint further so that the conversation can move forward privately.
8. Make sure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome
After a while, it pays back to check in on your customer to see whether they are happy with the resolution of the complaint they made. You need to use your gut feeling and the silent knowledge of your organization to determine when is the right time to follow up with the customer. Some complaints can be followed up within days or weeks after they've been dealt with, and others demand a follow-up email to the customer within 24 hours.
However, the rule of thumb is that it's always better to over-communicate than under-communicate after a customer has expressed dissatisfaction with your business. You show that you truly care about the customer by following up proactively, fostering trust towards your business.
9. Take the feedback from customers to action
When it's all said and done, it's time to follow through with your plans to make amends. Think about it this way: If you'd make a complaint and would be promised a change, but it wouldn't happen, would you be satisfied?
Complaint reply template by Flowrite
Flowrite is an AI writing assistant that turns your instructions into ready-to-send emails. Our AI email templates allow you to focus on the message instead of the delivery by adapting to the situation and creating unique emails considering the recipient and your previous correspondence. This means you can stop copying and pasting, using canned responses, and typing out emails as you know it. With Flowrite, you can create personalized responses to customer complaints faster than ever before with the help of our complaint reply template.
Try our reply to customer complaint template yourself
Below you can try to reply to the customer complaint template yourself. We hope that this demo can help you understand how much time Flowrite can save when dealing with customer complaints or any other type of customer service email and message.
Dealing with customer complaints
Responding to customer complaints in email is never easy, but it's a necessary part of the job. Taking the time to develop your approach on how to deal with these complaints and handling each issue with professionalism and compassion proves to your customers that you genuinely value them. Having the right tools for the right job is paramount for customer service. That's why Flowrite's template gallery is filled with customer service email templates that will make you and your team more productive when emailing and messaging with your customers.
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