by Tash Hughes
of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com)
most important aspect of any business is the customer Ė
without customers, your business will not succeed. And
happy, satisfied customers will carry your business to
Knowing that, most business owners and their staff will
work to make customers happy with the service and
products. You can value add, offer quality products and
do it all professionally for a good price.
However, even the best business will have unhappy
customers. They may be unhappy about something out of
your control or be unreasonable, but if they are unhappy
it can impact on you and your business.
Complaints can be a positive!
Instead of avoiding complaints and being scared of them,
consider the advantages of hearing your customersí
If you make it easy for customers to come to you, you
will know about their complaints and be able to do
something about it. Consider their complaint as a
feedback system where you can learn and improve.
Have you heard the stories which say an unhappy customer
will tell 10 people about their bad experience with you
while a happy customer will tell only 2 or 3 about you?
Think about going out for dinner. The first few people
you talk to after a good meal will hear about it, but
you may soon forget to mention the restaurant name. But
if you are served slowly and get bad food, you will warn
many friends and colleagues to avoid that restaurant.
How often do you complain about a business to friends
rather than to the business itself?
For instance, if a customer complains that your contact
details are too hard to find on your website you can be
sure that others also find it hard to find those
details. Now that you know about it, you can move the
contact details to the front page or make the link to
them more obvious.
It is much easier to deal with complaints than to deal
with a bad reputation because you have a number of
Dealing with complaints
No matter what the complaint is or how the customer
reacts, stay as calm and professional as you possibly
can. Taking the complaint personally and arguing will
only make you both feel worse and wonít get a positive
The key is to listen to the customer. Ask questions to
make sure you fully understand the problem and
sympathise with their situation, even if you donít think
it is your fault. Just being heard will make most
unhappy customers feel better about the situation.
Show concern for their inconvenience and thank them for
telling you about their concerns. If itís a mistake on
your part, then make sure you apologise for that, too.
Most people will respect you for the apology.
Find a solution with the customer. Itís no good you
offering a solution that doesnít work for the customer
as that doesnít help them. Make sure you both understand
the agreed solution and write it down so no one forgets
it. Determine a time frame for the solution, unless it
is an immediate solution, and make sure it is done by
Follow up the complaint a few days later. Whether it is
a call to make sure the replacement arrived, an email to
say the website has been altered or a letter apologising
for the error, the follow up shows you are serious about
trying to fix their problem.
Sometimes, the customers who complain can become the
most loyal and positive customers for your business.
Knowing that you will look after them in bad situations,
they can trust you to look after them in the normal
course of business.
By dealing with customers calmly and with respect, even
when they are complaining about your business, you will
reduce the negative feedback about your business. And
you get the opportunity to improve your business as
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions and is available to solve all
your business writing problems! From letters to
policies, newsletters to web content, Word Constructions
writes all business documents to your style and