The 3 R’s to Handling Customer Complaints

(By Tom Borg, owner of Tom Borg Consulting)

Every organization receives complaints. The key is turning a complaint into win-win situation. Too often employees and managers take the customer’s complaint personally and get defensive. It would be better if they took the complaint professionally and look at the complaint as an opportunity to fix what went wrong and if possible keep the customer. The second reason is to take an action that would prevent that sort of problem from reoccurring in the future with other customers.

The first R in my formula stands for the word RESPECT. It is critical that you show respect to the customer. You can do this by listening and letting the customer vent their feelings and frustration. The longer you are able to listen, the better. Use cushion statements to ease the frustration level of the customer. A cushion statement is anything you say or do that shows the customer you empathize with their concern. Some examples would be: “You are right to feel concerned” or “That must be frustrating”.

The next R stands for the word RAPPORT. You can develop rapport with the person by sincerely apologizing for any trouble that was caused by the person who experienced the problem. One way you could say this is: “Mr. Jones, I want apologize for any trouble this has caused you”. Then thank them for bringing this concern to their attention.

The third R stands for RESOLVE. Here is where you resolve the situation to the best of your ability. One question you could ask is: “What action would you like us to take?” Many times the complaining person’s idea of a resolution is much less than you would think. The key here is to take action and if possible, resolve the problem. 

By following this three step process you will be able to use your customer’s complaints to strengthen and grow your business.

(How to you handle customer complaints? Tell us below in the discussion section!)


Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 (Archive on Monday, February 06, 2012)
Posted by mrogers  Contributed by
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