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How to Deal with Customer Complaints

As a business owner you’re probably aware that you can’t please all of the people all of the time and, chances are that you’ll have to deal with an unhappy or disgruntled customer or client from time to time.  Despite all of our best intentions, mistakes do happen and any mistakes made with your customers may have you worried that it will have an adverse effect on your business in the future.  After all, this is the age of digital information and social media – not only can unhappy customers tell their friends and family about their negative experience, they can also post it publicly on social media for all the world to see.  This can leave you feeling concerned that a mistake could lead to a decrease in sales which will leave your business foundering, or, worse still, going into debt or bankruptcy. 

A mistake needn’t be such a negative experience – it’s an opportunity for you as a business owner to learn and ensure that this type of situation is avoided in future.  When it comes to fixing the mistake, how you react could make all the difference between alienating a customer and losing business or winning the customer over.  Today we’re going to take a look at the type of damage limitation you’ll need to do should one of your customers become upset over a bad experience with your business or products.

·        The first thing to do is to get in touch with the customer to acknowledge the mistake and apologise.  Make sure that the communication is personal – write a note or card apologising and asking for the opportunity to put things right.  A hand-written communication demonstrates that you are dealing with the matter personally. 

·        Make sure your response is proportionate to the situation.  With a new customer, a refund will often suffice but if you’ve made a mistake with a regular long-term customer, you’ll need to push the boat out a little and offer a little more compensation for the trouble experienced – send flowers or a bottle of wine if possible, maybe some gift vouchers or a hamper full of your products.

·        Fix the product or process which led to the negative customer experience.  This may mean improving the product, improving the instructions for the product or improving delivery.  Once you’ve taken the necessary action, get in touch with the customer, thanking them for pointing out the problem and letting them know exactly what has been done to ensure that a similar situation will not arise in the future.

·        Manage your customer expectations by being totally transparent about your products, services, prices and delivery.  Make sure your customers know exactly what they can expect from your products or services to avoid disappointment.  Don’t make unfounded claims about what your products or services will deliver as this just leads to high expectations followed by disappointment.


Ignoring customer complaints really isn’t an option as it will reflect badly on your business.  Deal with any customer complaints immediately, fix the problem, put it right and offer some type of compensation in order to demonstrate that you are dedicated to providing a great customer experience at all times.