How to handle customer complaints? 8 common examples and ways to solve them
Let’s face it – customer complaints are inevitable, they are not situations businesses look forward to; however, they are unique opportunities for product improvement, business growth, and customer loyalty.
Here’s how customer complaints contribute –
- Identify areas for improvement
- Capture systematic issues
- Give opportunities to retain customers
- Provide data for decision-making
- Showcase commitment to customer success
Handling a customer complaint is like debugging a piece of code – your problem-solving skills can either lead to a seamless UX or a frustrating crash – so how you handle the complaint makes all the difference.
Therefore, companies heavily rely on technology to provide value and deliver excellent customer experience. However, with great technology comes great responsibility.
To help resolve and make the best of your customer complaints, we are covering the dynamics of customer complaints, how to deal with customer complaints, types of complaints, and a few common examples with their solutions.
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What are customer complaints?
Customer complaints are queries or negative feedback from dissatisfied customers about a company’s product or service. These complaints can take two primary forms –
Permanent and personal: In this category, customers tend to harbor long-term dissatisfaction because of recurring problems or overall company experience. They may express their dissatisfaction on public platforms such as social media, community forums, or communities, often seeking resolutions and explanations.
Temporary and external: In this scenario, customers encounter issues that are typically short-lived or external to the company's operations. They are more inclined to reach out directly to the customer support team through customer feedback forms, phone calls, messages, or emails, with the expectation of prompt resolution or first-call resolution.
Ultimately, the impact of complaints is strong and has a direct impact on your business success.
As per research published in a Forbes article, consistent negative feedback on a common complaint has a significant impact on sales and brand reputation, with 85% stating that their purchasing decisions are influenced by poor reviews.
Businesses can understand the nature of customer complaints and tailor their responses to address customer concerns and maintain satisfaction effectively.
Why do customers complain?
Before we dive into how to resolve customer complaints, let’s understand why customers complain and the types of complaints.
Product or service issues
The most common reason is encountering problems with the product or service they've purchased. They can involve defects, malfunctions, or performance issues.
Did you know? 33.1% of consumers agree to give a company a second go if they witness that the company made a sincere effort to resolve the issue, as per a survey published in a Forbes article.
Therefore, customer complaints should not be taken as liabilities but as opportunities to reduce customer churn. You can take a customer-centered development and ticket-fixing approach. Give your tech team complete visibility of the issue through smart customer service software so that they can improve and build a product your customer truly loves.
Customers expect optimum results from the offerings. And when their expectations are not met, they raise queries/voice problems with the product and provide feedback. It can be caused by misleading communication from the company, such as overpromising, or misunderstanding on the customer’s side, such as misinterpreting the product's intended use or capabilities.
At times, companies overpromise during sales and marketing campaigns as well as meetings. Therefore, set realistic expectations from the beginning to ensure long-lasting trust and satisfaction.
Customer service problems
Poor customer service experiences, such as long wait times, inability to resolve customer issues, rude or unhelpful staff, or overall experience provided by the company, can lead to complaints.
The customer service team can invest in a comprehensive CRM such as DevRev to address your customer complaints effectively. You can build a knowledge base using internal and external sources, streamline customer support, and solve your product queries in an efficient manner.
Billing or pricing concerns
Customers may complain about incorrect billing, unexpected charges, or disputes over pricing. Some common causes can be discrepancies in charges, communication, or transparency.
Customers sometimes express dissatisfaction without specifying a reason. Sometimes, they don’t have a specific reason. Customers simply may have high expectations, causing disappointment when products or services don't meet perceived quality or performance levels.
How to handle customer complaints?
Handling customer complaints smartly, promptly, and effectively translates into improved customer satisfaction and enhanced customer loyalty. Here are the six steps to successful and smooth customer complaint resolution for the customer service team to always be prepared.
One: Ask the right questions
You must understand the problem first in order to resolve it efficiently. And that is possible by asking the right questions. Many customers often struggle to articulate their issues comprehensively.
Create a standard questionnaire for your product. You can customize them under common customer complaints, such as a new feature function. Practice active listening and ask follow-up questions to gather useful information.
You can structure your questions in the following manner:
- What specific issue are you experiencing?
- When did this problem first occur?
- Are there any error messages or codes you're encountering?
- Have you recently made any changes to your setup?
- Is this a recurring problem, or is it the first time you've faced it?
- Which device or browser are you using?
- Can you replicate the issue, and if so, how?
Two: Understand and evaluate the problem
Gather relevant information and evaluate whether it is an issue of one customer or similar issues that have occurred with other customers before. Prepare a list of common complaints and prioritize them. If it’s a potential problem that requires system improvement, involve the development team. You can take a customer-centric approach to resolve the complaint, ensuring that it benefits not only the complaining customer but also other current and future users.
You can use customer service software such as DevRev that enables support teams to cluster similar tickets by identifying patterns with the help of AI. The smart cluster helps in prioritizing pressing issues, allocating them to relevant product owners or agents, and overall enhancing the product for a better user experience.
Further, you can also track features and enhancements of your product in the roadmap for better efficiency and success.
Three: Understand the customer
Different people react and communicate differently even though the situations are similar. Therefore, understand your customers, their requirements, and complaints, and manage them accordingly.
Different customers respond differently to similar situations and interactions. Here are a few common types of customers and how to manage them.
Expressive and helpful customer: Engaging with customers who are both expressive and eager to assist in resolving customer issues can be a positive experience. Here’s how you can deal with them:
- They are likely to provide you with comprehensive information about their issues, making it easier for you to understand the problem.
- Listen attentively to their detailed feedback, acknowledge their input, and demonstrate that you value their effort in assisting with issue resolution
- Collaborate with them by discussing the best solution and involving them in decision-making when appropriate.
- Express gratitude and let them know that their effort is instrumental in improving the overall customer experience.
Angry or dissatisfied customer: Dealing with an angry or upset customer requires an empathetic approach. Their emotions may run high, and they might even contemplate taking their business elsewhere, leading you to lose their business potentially. When they send a service request, you can do the following:
- Stay calm and carefully listen, making them feel heard.
- Acknowledge their dissatisfaction, and communicate that your aim is to resolve the issue swiftly.
- Aim for first-call resolutions and offer clear and reassuring guidance on how you intend to resolve their problem.
- Prioritize their concerns and offer additional support. Address the problem with a sense of urgency to transform their negative experience into a positive one.
Frequent complainer: Customers who frequently raise concerns might be signaling recurring issues. Investigate these complaints carefully to identify and address root problems.
- Pay attention to recurring themes in their complaints, and systemic issues that may require extensive solutions.
- Find the root cause, evaluate your product or service from their perspective, and look for opportunities to enhance it.
- Reach out to frequent complainers proactively, demonstrating your commitment to addressing their concerns.
Premium customers: They are often your most valuable clients, so offer support promptly when they voice their concerns.
- Recognize their status as premium customers and treat them with a high level of personalized care.
- Premium customers expect expedited service. Respond to their complaints swiftly, showing that their concerns are a top priority.
- Go above and beyond to exceed their expectations, and offer additional benefits or solutions to reinforce their trust and loyalty.
Four: Resolve the problem
Provide a solution promptly, ensuring clarity about the next steps. Verify if the problem is resolved, and, if possible, walk the customer through the resolution process. For instance, if a product feature isn't working, explain the steps required and conduct a live demonstration during the call. Confirm that the issue is resolved to the customer's satisfaction.
Further, customer service agents can provide step-by-step guidance and relevant self-assistance material and even conduct quick training to ensure the problem is resolved and your customer is able to utilize your product at its maximum potential.
You can integrate an AI-powered chat function for instant resolution of common issues. Learn how you can transform customer support with generative AI.
Five: Follow up with your customer
A follow-up demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction. Reach out to ensure the solution meets their expectations and address any lingering concerns promptly. This step not only shows that you care about their experience but also provides an opportunity to gather valuable feedback for continuous improvement, fostering a positive and lasting relationship.
Six: Keep a record of the complaint
Saving customer complaints as records serves as a goldmine of information. The customer service reps can later analyze service requests, take a data-driven decision-making approach, spot trends, identify recurring issues, and address larger systemic problems.
These records also help improve services, product quality, and operational efficiency. You can maintain a comprehensive log of complaints, demonstrating your dedication to enhancing the overall customer experience and ensuring that customer feedback drives positive change within your organization.
8 Examples of common customer complaints and their resolutions
Example one: Slow feature response
Complaint: Users encounter frustration due to slow software responses and loading times, impacting their productivity.
Resolution: Your customer may be facing the challenge due to different reasons including product or service issues or understanding of your customer. If the product feature is functioning on the platform, inform the customer and find out when and how they experience lag. If the feature is malfunctioning, get your development and QA teams to fix the problem. In the meantime, assist the customer in discovering alternative methods to maintain productivity. In the case of a user error, identify the issue and provide guidance to prevent recurrence.
Example two: Inadequate customer support and inconvenient service hours
Complaint: Users are frustrated because of long wait times and unresponsive helpdesk teams, causing delays in issue resolution.
Resolution: Establish clear response time expectations and procedures for escalating urgent issues in your customer service ecosystem. Offer multiple communication channels such as live chat, email, and phone support to cater to different customer preferences so that you can serve multiple customers efficiently without having them queued to talk to a human agent.
You can offer 24/7 support for common queries via a knowledge base and prioritize support tickets as per the urgency. Also, you can use an AI-native platform such as DevRev to auto-assign the ticket to relevant professionals for fast and seamless management.
Example three: Information repetition required (by customer service teams)
Complaint: Multiple users frequently ask for similar information, and the customer service team is required to repeat the same information each time, causing inefficiency and inconvenience
Resolution: Acknowledge the recurring issue faced by both users and the customer service team, and express your commitment to addressing it. Create user-friendly documentation, guides and FAQs that comprehensively explain the problem, and make these resources easily accessible on your platform or website. You can also provide real-time chat support for instant resolutions.
Tip: In special circumstances, for example, when you are launching a new feature, you can create a dedicated hotline for users with specific queries about the new feature. It will reduce the redundancy in information requests and enhance both user experience and customer service efficiency.
Example four: Information repetition on a new feature
Complaint: Users encounter frustration due to the need to repeatedly provide information when using a new feature, leading to delays in task completion and impacting their overall experience.
Resolution: Recognize the challenges faced by users and emphasize your commitment to enhancing their experience. Investigate the reasons for information repetition, which may be attributed to a lack of feature integration or data continuity. Implement a feature improvement plan that streamlines the information input process, enabling a smoother user experience. Train users to navigate the new feature efficiently and minimize the need for repetitive data entry. Additionally, consider implementing autofill or data caching mechanisms to further reduce the burden of information repetition, thus improving the user experience and productivity when using the new feature.
Example five: Lack of follow-ups
Complaint: Customers have reported dissatisfaction with the lack of follow-ups on their inquiries or concerns, leading to unresolved issues and frustration.
Resolution: First of all, apologize for any previous lapses in follow-ups and assure the customer that their concerns are a priority. You can start by implementing a structured follow-up process within your customer service department to track and manage open issues. If there are multiple instances or the number of customer complaints is higher, assign dedicated personnel to monitor and proactively reach out to customers with updates on their inquiries or concerns.
A tip: Establish a clear communication protocol for follow-ups in your structured process, including the frequency and means of communication, and inform customers about this process. This will help improve customer satisfaction and ensure that their issues are addressed in a timely manner.
Example six: Difficulty in understanding software features
Complaint: Users express confusion in grasping software features and are not able to effectively utilize them.
Resolution: Enhance user understanding by creating a user-friendly knowledge base, including tutorials, video guides, and accessible documentation. Offer customer training sessions to provide personalized assistance. Ensure a responsive support team is readily available to address any feature-related queries.
Example seven: Data security or privacy concerns
Complaint: Customers raise concerns about data security and privacy within the software.
Resolution: Reassure customers by transparently communicating robust data security measures and privacy policies. Companies can conduct regular security audits and implement improvements as necessary. And further, maintain transparency regarding how customer data is handled to build trust and confidence.
Example eight: Billing and subscription problems
Complaint: Users encounter issues related to billing and subscriptions, causing frustration and confusion.
Resolution: Foster trust by providing transparent pricing details and accurate billing in the beginning stage. You can promptly resolve billing disputes and offer flexible subscription options to cater to diverse customer needs. Implement automated billing systems to minimize errors and streamline the billing process. Make sure their requests for refunds and other glitches are fulfilled immediately.
Take the futuristic way to resolve customer complaints
Customers have high expectations from businesses, and owing to technology, customer service teams have higher chances of making their customers happier.
Taking the futuristic way, you can integrate generative AI for advanced and quick customer support, leverage data to predict trends, identify system loopholes, and streamline service processes for better team performance.
When you embrace the future of customer complaint resolution, you are not just keeping up – you are setting the standard. It's a game-changer that benefits both your business and your customers.