A ‘sorry’ is not always enough. Why is complaint management important?

In the market competition, a basic requirement is that the customers of the company are fully satisfied with the provided product or service. But everybody makes mistakes. Most of the businesses are not aware of the potential in complaint management however, it can make a customer loyal to our business for life. Customer reviews are everywhere and, as we have mentioned in one of our former posts, they can confirm buying or make a potential customer uncertain.

Positive attitude

Most of the businesses take complaint levels undesirable, and even worse if they are not dealing with complaint handling at all. The client of an opened but forgotten complaint email will not be likely to choose the firm’s product or service again. However the success of the business is based on its customer base.

Appropriate communication

We also have to handle complaints from dissatisfied, upset and sometimes threatening customers. An offensive and dubious attitude will never make a result. We always have to admit that the customer is right! A calm, respectful answer will make a positive feeling in our disappointed customer. We have to admit that we made a mistake, we have to apologize and let them know what we will do to solve the problem.

Think in systems!

Structuring the elements of the complaint handling process will help you a lot. It is important to ensure that information can flow freely between the customer service, the management and the leader of the complained area. If the complaining letter only reaches the customer service, the problem will only be solved temporarily because the error remains in the process. PDCA is a widely used method for the continuous improvement of the processes and products. If we identify the root causes, plan the solution and make sure that it will work, then we only have to implement it in practice.

Apology VS. Compensation

The Nottingham School of Economics revealed several interesting facts in their researches. 45% of the dissatisfied customers withdrew their negative review after the company apologized for the mistake. Only 23% of the complaining customers claimed for compensation. Researchers related this to human psychology. When a customer hears ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘What can I do to make it better?’ the instinct of forgiving automatically appears. But there are some cases when this is simply not enough. The compensation of the disappointed customer depends on the profile and the activity of the business. In the case of faulty products, cheap repair or replacement can easily solve the problem. But in the fields of services, this is more complex. The customer has a bad experience which cannot be changed later, but we always have to make an effort to eliminate the negative feelings towards our business in the long run. This can be achieved by a free repetition of the service or by some favorable offers. But whatever form of compensation we decide to offer, we always have to make sure that it is good for our customers. Find out the exact demand of our disappointed customer, and offer suitable opportunities.


This case represents the role of gestures very well. A young lady wanted to buy the requested book for his son as a Christmas present at one shop of B. Dalton bookstores. The shop assistant checked it in the computer  ventory and it showed that they had some left. The staff of the store looked through the stock but they couldn’t find any. After that B. Dalton colleague called  one of their competitors, Borders and reserved a book for the customer. “She gave me the contact name at Borders and told me to just go up to the counter and my book would be waiting.” While B. Dalton may sell one book less that day, they win a loyal customer for life. So don’t neglect those customers who are not satisfied with something. Every new complaint is a chance to make our product or service even better.

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