How to Handle Customer Complaints

Nobody likes to handle customer complaints, and listen to disgruntled customers telling (yelling?) you in no uncertain terms what they dislike about your company, products and services.


Often, this triggers a Fight-or-Flight response:

  • Fight: "I'm sorry, sir, you must've misread the user manual. We cannot be held responsible for that." (It's your own fault, you whiner!)

  • Flight: "The responsible person is not in the office right now, please try again another time. Sorry we can't be of assistance right now." (and all next calls, the "responsible person" turns out the most elusive person on the planet!)

There's no need for this, if you decide that a complaint is an opportunity to LEARN.

It's always wise to notice what your complaining customers are saying, learn your weaknesses, and act upon them.

But I'd like to introduce another meaning to the word LEARN...

Handle customer complaints
with L.E.A.R.N.

When you are talking to a complaining customer, you could apply the LEARN-principle.

You may think that the customer is calling upon you to have his troubles resolved, but this is not the customers prime drive. First and formost, disgruntled customers want to be heard. Applying the LEARN principle makes sure they are.

L.E.A.R.N. is an acronym, with 5 easy steps to follow:

  • LISTEN - Listen carefully to your customer. Don't interrupt or tell the customer to calm down, this will only ignite the anger.

  • EMPATHIZE - Feel the pain of the customer, and tell her that you can understand how they feel.

  • APOLOGIZE - Apologize to the customer, even if you feel that you have no part in the problem. Do not blame the customer, but there is no need to take the blame yourself!

  • REACT - Decide what you will do to resolve the problem, and tell this to the customer.

  • NOW! - Do not delay. Take immediate action! The longer you wait, the harder it is to produce outstanding customer service. - WILLIAM H. DAVIDOW

Handle customer complaints with L E A R N, and your customers will feel appreciated!


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