Regardless of a business’ reputation and intentions, customer complaints are inevitable. Eventually, someone is going to have a problem and no matter what position you hold, you will have to deal with one of these problems at some point. While these situations are uncomfortable, you want to please the customer and ultimately keep them coming back. Some people may think it’s easier to throw up their hands and let your company and that one customer part ways. In doing so, not only does that show you really don’t care about them, but it also lends to the customer sharing their negative experience, turning away more potential customers. So how can you turn around a customer complaint?

The first thing you should do is let the customer vent, while actively listening. This can be as simple as nodding and saying “ok”, “yes, I see that”, and phrases like that. If you talk before you listen, they will just become angrier.  Next, avoid language that suggests in any way that the customer could have prevented the problem themselves (such as “you should have…”). Their complaint may seem unreasonable, but they have a right to talk to you about it.  Be sure to take the problem at face value—don’t minimize it and don’t exaggerate it. Accurately defining the problem lets the customer know you are going to start working to resolve it. Related to that, rephrase the complaint back to the customer so they know you’ve been listening.  Now you have the information you need, so go about solving the problem. When a resolution has been reached, thank them for bringing it to your attention. If appropriate, offer a free product or service or a discount for their next visit with you.

If the same type of complaint arises more than once or twice, look into your side of the problem. Is there an issue with your business services that you have overlooked or ignored? Is an employee repeatedly causing the same problem due to circumstances you were not aware of? While negative feedback can be frustrating, use it as a learning experience rather than a reason to panic. Defusing dissatisfied customers is a learned business skill that will help you deliver the best service and products possible. Make it happen!