How to handle customer complaints

How do you handle your customer complaints?

Recently I had reason to lodge a customer complaint against one of my suppliers.  I had ordered a box of A4 paper which did not arrive on time.  I duly sent off an email and said the order had not been received.  I got a response almost immediately saying that the matter would be looked in to.

After a few more days with no further correspondence, I sent another email in a rather more abrupt manner letting the supplier know how let down I felt and that I would no longer use their services in the future.

From past experience, I expected a refund and that would be the end of the matter.

What I got was very much different.  I had an email explaining how they had changed courier services and had been badly let down by this new company which had then impacted upon their own customers.  They explained how much they valued my custom and were incredibly sorry that this had happened.  In a clear but concise manner the person on the end of the email told me what a nightmare they were in trying to sort out this mess but as I had been so let down, they would issue an immediate refund but would still send my order out for free.  They admitted they had received quite a few other customer complaints and were doing their best to rectify the matter and regain trust.

What made this response different to most of the standard ones I get and why was I so impressed?

Firstly, they put their hands up and admitted things had gone wrong.  This is so different to a recent response I had from British Airways after an appalling flight when they basically refused to admit anything was wrong.

Secondly, this was not an automated response.  This came from an individual who genuinely seemed to care.  They let me know how they were feeling personally in such a way that I instantly had empathy for their situation.

By not only issuing me a full refund but also still sending me the order free of charge, I regained my trust in them and will now stay with them as a future customer.  If I had simply been given a refund, I would not have ordered from them again.  They showed me that they valued my custom.

All too many companies hate complaints so much that they just get rid of the complainant as quickly as possible by sending a refund and not thinking of the bigger picture.  This company went out of their way to ensure I felt valued and to show they genuinely felt remorse for the problem.

If you get a customer complaint in the future take a leaf out of this company’s book and see how you can go over and above what is expected of you to gain a loyal future customer.