If you deal with customers, chances are you’ve gotten complaints at one time or another. Not everyone is going to be satisfied with your products or services all the time.
A complaint isn’t necessarily the end of your relationship with a customer. How you handle the complaint will determine whether or not the customer will continue doing business with you.
Let’s go through some steps you can take and English expressions you can use next time you receive a customer complaint.
How to handle a customer complaint in English
Step 1: Listen and acknowledge the customer’s complaint
When a customer is dissatisfied with your product or service, it’s important to make them feel like you hear them (whether you agree with them or not):
- I appreciate . . . [the customer’s feelings]
I appreciate how frustrated you must be after having been overcharged for the car repairs.
- I understand . . . [the situation]
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I understand that you’re unhappy with the slow service you received.
Step 2: Get more information about the situation
It’s important to ask questions so you fully understand what happened and why your customer is unhappy.
- Can you tell me more about . . . ?
Can you tell me more about what happened when you called our service department?
- Could you please clarify . . . ?
I want to make sure I understand the situation. Could you please clarify what the sales associate told you after you purchased the item?
- Could you tell me exactly what happened . . . ?
Could you tell me exactly what happened when you were dining at our restaurant?
Step 3: Apologize
After you’ve gotten the details from the customer, make sure you apologize so they feel as though you understand and are taking them seriously.
- I’m very/really/truly/sincerely sorry about . . .
I’m sincerely sorry about the major inconvenience this has caused you.
- I’m sorry to hear that . . .
I’m sorry to hear that you no longer recommend our company to your friends and family.
- I apologize for . . .
I apologize for the five-week delay in receiving your new dishwasher.
- Please accept my apologies for . . .
Please accept my apologies for the unsatisfactory service you received.
Step 4: Work on a solution
Depending on the problem, you might be able to offer a solution right away, or you may need to get back to the customer later. Either way, ensure that they know you’re going to take action.
- I’ll speak to my manager to . . .
I’ll speak to my manager to see how we can compensate you for the trouble.
- I’d like to offer you . . .
I’d like to offer you six months of free admission to our fitness centre.
- I will . . .
I will speak to the employee who was working that day to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Step 5: Follow up
After you’ve offered a solution, it’s a good idea to reach out to the customer to make sure they’re satisfied with the outcome. This shows that you care and that you value their business.
- I wanted to reach out to see . . .
I wanted to reach out to see if you’d received your replacement product yet.
- I’m just following up on . . .
I’m just following up on the connectivity issues you were experiencing—is everything working okay now?
- Did everything work out with . . . ?
Did everything work out with the party supplies you were waiting for?
- Please let me know if there’s anything else . . .
Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to rectify this situation.
Handle complaints the right way to keep your customers
Regardless of the problem your customer is having, show that you’re taking them seriously and want to help. By listening and acknowledging, getting more information, working on a solution, and following up with them, you’ll have a better chance of making your customer happy and continuing to do business with them!