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The 3 C's of dealing with customer complaints

Posted by Perceptive Insights Team - 16 April, 2018


Handling with customer complaints is often seen as one of the least pleasant parts of doing business—a necessary evil that exists to maintain your reputation. However, the reality is that customer resolutions are a source of enormous value for any business.

But only if you can do it effectively.

We’ve broken down the most important parts of customer complaint resolution into a trio of easy-to-remember traits that will help you or your resolution team make the most of your detractors.

Here’s what you need to know:



Communication with your most-at-risk customers (MARC) needs to be fast, it needs to be friendly, but most of all it needs to happen. Nobody enjoys dealing with angry or disappointed customers, but the reality is that you can’t just sweep failed interactions under the rug for two simple reasons: it costs you reputation, and it costs you money.

According to research from thinkJar, 11 per cent of customer churn could be avoided simply by reaching out to unhappy customers.

That’s 1 out of every 10 lost customers that you could win back just by sending an email.

When you lose a customer due to a lack of communication, you’re not just losing that single point of business—you’re potentially at risk of losing every single person they share their experience with.

Bad news travels fast. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that news of bad customer service, for example, reaches twice as many ears as news of good customer service. Meanwhile, Zendesk has found that the vast majority of customers who take action over a poor experience do so by warning others about doing business with the offending company.

Communication is the first on this list for a reason: without you or your team actively chasing after MARCs and offering resolutions, the rest of this list is pointless.

Make it fast, make it friendly, but most of all, make it happen.


Related content: 5 reasons why you shouldn't exclude NPS scores



Contrary to popular belief, the most important thing to provide during customer resolutions isn’t a solution. It’s a friendly ear and compassionate understanding.

If you can solve the problem, great. If you can mitigate it, fantastic. But sometimes, you can’t do anything directly about the problem itself; if the customer complaint is about a faulty product, you can simply replace it. But a poor experience with a customer service agent, on the other hand, can’t be so quickly or easily avoided.

Instead, customer service agents should be active listeners. Taking stock of the problem, allowing the customer to vent, asking pertinent questions to get more detail on what has happened and the unfortunate situations they’re in. Not only does this help calm a customer by letting them see you are taking their problem seriously, but it can also give you extremely valuable insight into precisely what is fuelling their complaint—and how you can ensure it doesn’t happen again.


Related content: 5 tips to help you approach your most unhappy customers



The final C of the trio, clarification, is based around ensuring your customers understand how you are going to solve their problem or mitigate the damage, as well as how you are going to ensure that such problems do not occur in the future.

You won’t always win someone back over with this tactic, but this clarification of solution and change may be enough for the customer to move away from actively hurting your company’s reputation. It’s the difference between disappointment and an outright crusade; the difference between a single lost customer and many.

This stage usually takes place during a complaint follow-up. The focus here is on communicating a solution to your customer, explaining how you are planning to resolve their issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again in a way that lets them know how valuable their feedback has been.

Customers that complain are some of the most valuable customers you have. They give you a direct line to your weaknesses.

In fact, a customer who actively complains is quite rare, with the White House Office of Consumer Affairs finding that for every customer that bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.

Appreciate every customer complaint—they don’t come around very often, and the information they can provide is extremely valuable.


Read more: Grow your business with NPS [Free Guide]



By keeping the three C’s of customer complaint resolution in mind, you can:

  • Win back unhappy customers.
  • Mitigate reputation damage.
  • Find and fix recurring problems.

All through a couple of phone calls or emails. Not a bad trade, in our opinion.


Want to dial up your NPS and your business? Download our free guide Grow your business with NPS.

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Topics: Customer Insights

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