Complaints are a customer’s gift to you.


When customer’s complain, they give you the opportunity to make things right.  Using the 7 Steps to Customer Service Recovery will increase your likelihood of regaining the customers’ trust and confidence.

  1. Apologize.  Apologizing does not meet you are admitting guilt; it simply means you are acknowledging they are not completely satisfied.


“I’m sorry this has been a frustrating process for you.”

“I apologize for the confusion.”

“We apologize for the delay.”

2.  Understand the Problem. First, suspend judgment and refrain from drawing conclusions.  Second, listen – truly listen.  This requires checking for understanding by making sure you understand what your customer means.  Third, ask questions to get the details you need.

3. Determine the Cause.  This isn’t something your customer necessarily needs to know. It is possible that telling the customer the cause will sound like blame in the ears.  Blaming hurts your credibility.  It is, however, important to determine the ‘cause’ to prevent it from happening again.  Maybe it is a training issue, a system issue, a technology issue, a communication issue, a quality assurance issue …

4.  Offer 2-3 Solutions.  One solution is always to do nothing.  All other solutions are up to you and your customer.  If appropriate, explore possible solutions with your customer.  Ultimately, you want to offer choices to customer and give them the power to choose.  Don’t be afraid to offer solutions that include additional costs for your customer if applicable– it should be their choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

5.  Implement the Solution.  Make absolute sure you follow-through on the solution the customer chose and do so in a timely manner.

6.  Thank Them.  The last thing your customers expect is to be thanked for complaining!  This can go a looooong way.  (Saying, “Thanks for complaining” is obviously not the right thing to say.)


“Thank you for being honest.”

“Thank you for your continued business and trust.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to make things right.”

7.  Follow Up.  If at all possible, check in with your customer when all is said and done.  It will not only reinforce that you care, it will also leave things on a positive note!

(This concludes our Customer Service series.  Come back in March for a series on Motivation – if you want to be motivated that is.)