GREAT Complaints

How to resolve complaints

Complaints are a gift…if they are properly unwrapped. It might be that when we hear the words, “I want to complain” – your heart sinks and, despite your best efforts, you might feel defensive. Unfortunately, this can make the situation worse for the customer and break their trust in your organisation. But what if you welcomed complaints and saw them as an opportunity to deliver a GREAT experience and strengthen your customer’s loyalty to your organisation?

Research reveals that poorly handled complaints have a significant impact on customer loyalty. 92% of UK customers are unwilling to return to an organisation altogether should they deal with their complaint poorly. However, 52% of customers think more highly of an organisation that handles complaints effectively; a well-handled complaint makes customers 67% more likely to return to an organisation. The link between handing complaints well and customer loyalty is undeniable

Here are three strategies to help you to resolve complaints in a way that enhances loyalty:


  1. Adapt and attune

Recognise and attune to your customer’s Personality Style. Is the customer a Driver, an Expressive, an Amiable or an Analytical? Consider how each Personality Style might respond under pressure and take steps to adapt your own approach. Remember, people aren’t difficult, they are just different to you.


  1. Understand the customer’s story

Ask curious questions, listen to understand, learn the facts and recognise how the customer feels about the situation. Take time to understand your customer’s own unique story, that is, the specific circumstances of the complaint and how it is impacting them personally. Taking this approach means that you can truly empathise with your customer and resolve the situation in the best way possible for their circumstances. This is loyalty-enhancing and trust-building.


  1. Respond and resolve

Loyalty is driven more by how the customer feels about their experience with you, rather than the simplicity of the steps they have to follow to resolve it. It’s what you do, it’s how you do it. Respond in a way that is appropriate by offering a genuine apology then demonstrate accountability in how you explain your resolution. These three steps will help you:

  • Check your motive for the apology. Have you taken time to understand the customer’s story and empathise with their situation? Or are you apologising just to move the interaction on and bring it to a close?
  • See your customer’s perspective. Make your apology personal to the customer, linking it to their story. How often have you heard from advisers, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” “Sorry about that” or “I can only apologise,” before they move onto their resolution? It doesn’t feel heartfelt or genuine, it sounds part of the process.
  • Demonstrate accountability. Choose accountable language, focusing on what you can and will do. Show the customer that they are in safe hands and that they can trust you to put things right for them. Then explain your resolution, step-by-step, making it clear what you need from your customer and what you will do to put things right


Take a look at our GREAT complaints programme and if you’d like to explore this topic or any other aspect of customer service training then please do give us a call on 01582 463464. We’re always here to help.

Categories: Customer service

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