5 Ways of responding to customer complaints [+ Real examples]

Sprinklr Team

September 21, 20238 min read

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Customer complaints are a ubiquitous aspect of doing business. From local stores to global enterprises, none is immune to the occasional hiccup that leaves a customer less than thrilled. The ability to respond to consumer complaints effectively is a skill that can build or break a company's reputation.

However, these complaints aren't merely problems; they are opportunities — to turn a disgruntled customer into a delighted one. With continued commitment to exceptional customer support, you can not only overcome these hiccups but also build enduring relationships with your customers.

Join us in exploring how to transform complaints into stepping stones toward customer loyalty, all while keeping a pulse on data-backed industry trends.

Table of Contents

What are customer complaints?

A customer complaint is a formal or informal expression of dissatisfaction or concern raised by a customer regarding a product, service or experience with a business.

These expressions of discontent can manifest through various channels, such as phone calls, emails, live chat support or in-person interactions, and they typically highlight specific issues or problems the customer has encountered.

For instance, a frustrated shopper reaching out because of a product defect, a service glitch or a mismatched expectation. These scenarios might seem like hurdles, but they're opportunities in disguise for your brand. The next section elaborates on this.

An agent nudge on the Sprinklr complaint management dashboard

Importance of responding to customer complaints

As a customer service agent, responding to customer complaints is a pivotal aspect of your role with far-reaching implications for the business. Here's why addressing complaints is crucial:

  • Customer satisfaction: Your primary goal is to ensure customer satisfaction. Responding to complaints promptly and effectively is one of the most direct ways to achieve this. It shows customers that their concerns are heard and taken seriously, which can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business.

  • Reputation management: As a frontline representative, you play a vital role in protecting and managing the brand's reputation. A well-handled complaint can turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate, whereas mishandling complaints can lead to negative online reviews and reputation damage.

  • Learning opportunities: Customer complaints provide invaluable feedback that can drive improvements in products, services and processes. Agents are often the first to hear about issues, making their insights essential for implementing necessary adjustments and innovations.

  • Churn prevention: Unresolved complaints are a significant driver of customer churn. By effectively addressing complaints, you help retain valuable customers, reduce churn rates and maintain a stable customer base.

Five ways of responding to customer complaints

A customer support agent's typical day is eventful, sometimes with compliments and other times with complaints. Let's look at five common scenarios in an agent's work life and ways to broach them.

Scenario 1: Late product delivery

Dos: 

Acknowledge the delay promptly: Customers appreciate the prompt acknowledgment of their concerns, as it shows you are attentive. This step establishes a foundation of trust and transparency.

Apologize for any inconvenience caused: A sincere apology acknowledges the customer's inconvenience and demonstrates empathy. It shows that you understand and care about the customer's experience.

Provide a revised delivery estimate: Offer a solution to the problem, such as a new delivery timeline. This proactive approach reassures the customer that their issue is being addressed.

Don'ts:

Avoid blaming external factors: Customers want solutions, not excuses. Blaming external factors can make your business appear unaccountable.

Don't make vague promises: Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to more frustration if they're not met. Transparency about the revised timeline is crucial to managing customer expectations.

💡Pro tips:

Offer a small token of goodwill: Providing a discount is a proactive way to show appreciation and encourage repeat business. This gesture can turn a negative experience into a positive one. 

Keep the customer informed: Transparency throughout the process maintains trust. Regular updates help manage expectations and reduce anxiety.

Read more: Create a Disney-Park-like customer experience with great after-sales service

Scenario 2: Product quality concerns

Dos:

Express empathy and understanding: Start by acknowledging the customer's disappointment. Empathy shows you care about the customer's experience and concerns.

Request details and evidence of the quality issue: Gathering information helps assess the problem accurately. This step shows a commitment to resolving the issue effectively.

Don'ts:

Don't question the customer's complaint; trust their feedback: Questioning the customer's experience can come across as dismissive.

Avoid delays in addressing quality issues; act swiftly: Delaying resolution can erode trust and escalate the problem.

💡Pro tips:

Investigate the issue to identify any recurring quality problems: Use customer feedback surveys to improve your products or processes. Proactive improvement prevents similar issues in the future.

Scenario 3: Billing discrepancy

Dos:

Acknowledge the billing concern with professionalism: Start your response with a professional tone to set the stage for a respectful conversation.

Review the customer's account to verify the discrepancy: Thoroughly investigate the customer's claim before responding. Verification ensures that you have accurate information to provide a solution.

Don'ts:

Don't dismiss the complaint without thorough investigation: Ignoring or dismissing a billing concern can lead to frustration and mistrust.

Avoid making the customer feel responsible for the error: Blaming the customer for a billing issue is unprofessional and can damage the customer-business relationship.

💡Pro tips:

Offer a goodwill gesture, like a discount on the next invoice: Providing a small discount can help appease the customer and maintain goodwill.

Scenario 4: Unresponsive support

Dos:

Apologize for the inconvenience caused by unresponsiveness: Start your response by acknowledging the inconvenience experienced by the customer. Empathy in customer service goes a long way in salvaging at-risk customer relationships.

Investigate the reason for the delay and rectify it: Find out why support was unresponsive and take immediate steps to rectify the situation.

Ensure the concern is escalated to the appropriate team for resolution: If necessary, ensure the complaint is directed to the team or department that can address it effectively.

Don'ts:

Don't ignore or underestimate the impact of unresponsiveness: Unresponsiveness can lead to customer frustration and, in some cases, escalate the issue.

Avoid making excuses for the lack of response: Customers expect timely responses and excuses can seem unprofessional.

💡Pro tips:

Offer the customer a direct contact for future inquiries to expedite support: Provide a direct contact or a priority support channel to ensure quick assistance in the future.

Scenario 5: Website technical glitch

Dos:

Express understanding and regret for the inconvenience: Begin by empathizing with the customer.

Investigate the technical issue and work to fix it promptly: Immediately start

investigating the glitch and working toward resolving it as quickly as possible.

Offer assistance, such as guiding the customer through an alternative process: If applicable, provide guidance on how the customer can proceed despite the glitch.

Don'ts:

Don't blame the customer's device or internet connection: Blaming the customer's equipment can appear dismissive and unprofessional.

Avoid generic responses that don't address the specific glitch: Tailor your response to the customer's experience. Personalized responses show attentiveness to the customer's situation.

💡Pro tips:

Build a knowledge base for troubleshooting technical issues: Invest in effective knowledge base software that can help address recurrent customer queries on common technical issues.

Sprinklr’s Knowledge Base helps respond to common customer complaints easily

Ready-to-use scripts for responding to common customer complaints

Addressing customer complaints requires finesse and a customer-centric approach. Here are three ready-to-use scripts agents can leverage to respond to customer complaints effectively.

Example 1: Late product delivery

Customer complaint: My order was supposed to arrive two days ago, and it's still not here!

Agent response:

Dear [Customer's Name],

I sincerely apologize for the delay in your order's delivery. I understand how frustrating this can be. Let me investigate this immediately and provide you with an updated delivery estimate. In the meantime, if there's anything else I can assist you with or if you have any specific concerns about your order, please don't hesitate to let me know. Your satisfaction is our priority, and we're committed to resolving this issue promptly.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Best regards,

[Agent's Name]

Customer Service Team

Example 2: Billing discrepancy

Customer complaint: I've been overcharged on my recent bill!

Agent response:

Hello [Customer's Name],

I'm sorry to hear about the billing discrepancy you've encountered. I understand how worrisome this can be. To resolve this, I'll personally review your billing statement and investigate the issue. Once I have all the necessary information, I'll reach out to you with a detailed explanation of what happened and the steps we'll take to correct it.

In the meantime, if you have any other questions or if there's anything else I can assist you with, please feel free to reach out. Your satisfaction is our top priority, and we're committed to making this right for you.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Warm regards,

[Agent's Name]

Billing Support Team

Example 3: Product quality concern

Customer complaint: The product I received is damaged and not as described!

Agent response:

Dear [Customer's Name],

I'm truly sorry to hear about the issue you've experienced with the product you received. Quality and accuracy are paramount to us, and I understand your frustration. To address this, please provide us with some details about the damage and any discrepancies from the product description.

Once we have this information, we'll arrange for a return or replacement, whichever you prefer, and ensure you receive the product you expected in pristine condition. Your satisfaction is our utmost priority, and we're committed to making this right for you.

If you have any further questions or anything else you'd like to share with us, please don't hesitate to reach out. We appreciate your feedback, as it helps us continually improve our products and services.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Best regards,

[Agent's Name]

Customer Care Team

These examples showcase the importance of empathetic, prompt and solution-oriented responses to customer complaints, tailored to address specific issues while maintaining a customer-centric approach.

Wrapping it up

Navigating the world of customer complaints is more than just crisis management for the brand; it's an opportunity for businesses to showcase their dedication to customer satisfaction.

As you put the above tips into practice, you'll find that responding to customer complaints becomes a proactive way to foster loyalty, drive revenue and stand out in a competitive market.

Sprinklr Complaint Management Platform can be a trusty sidekick in your resolution journey. With an AI-powered agent desktop and productivity tools, you can handle complaints and boost CSAT scores efficiently.

Take a free trial of Sprinklr and witness the results yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prompt acknowledgment. Let the customer know you know their concern and are committed to addressing it.

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