Why do customers complain – and how to handle it 

By  Nils Rebehn

In most cases, if somebody gets annoyed, it is because they think they have fulfilled their side of a transaction – bought a service or product – and they harbor an expectation for what they should get in return. If a product is defective, instructions are poorly written, or they have a bad experience for some other reason, they will become annoyed.

Consequently, lots of people will file complaints, frequently using swear words, shouting, or by publishing negative posts on social networks.

If this happens and the customer vents his anger, it is vital not to become emotionally involved. It is rare for customers to become frustrated with a specific individual. Usually, they just identify somebody who they can vent their anger on. It might be you if you own a small company, however it might be one of your employees, or someone you have hired to look after Facebook or Twitter.

They might be right

Essentially, you need to understand what occurred and why a customer is dissatisfied. Can you trace back what went wrong? Did something or somebody give a customer a false expectation? Was a defective product sent to a customer or the service delivered sub standard?

Although some people like complaining and will pick holes in even high quality services, most are rational and simply want to resolve their problem.

Broken bicycle
Broken bicycle left behind

Handling unhappy customers

As already stated, there is nearly always a good reason why customer satisfaction falls by the wayside. Normally, there is an appropriate solution. However, initially, you should determine what is going on. The following advice will help you to bypass the frustration and uncover the truth:

  • Interact with people genuinely. People will sense if you are reciting sound bites or simply trying to fob them off.
  • Stay calm and have patience. We are all human beings, so it can be difficult coping with angry customers. Nonetheless, it is vital that you don’t lose your temper.
  • Recognize people’s concerns and demonstrate that you care. Often, it is useful to clarify the problem with the customer initially, ensuring that you are on the same page.
  • Find out if there is anything you can do to make it better. Sometimes it’s easier to fix it as you assume.
  • Can something be replaced, repaired or refunded? If you can’t do it in full, can you offer some refund or partial replacement? Maybe some extra time so sort things out?

How to turn angry customers into fans

There is even a chance to turn it around 180 degrees. Zendesk has some good points in this slightly old webinar of theirs: 7 strategies for turning angry customers into loyal fans

About the author 

Nils Rebehn

Founder of Guidoo Services and former Zendesk employee #100. Nils is a Customer Service Expert and a certified Zendesk Administrator.

Guidoo Services is "your guide to Customer Service” - the team offers a range of professional services and are specialised in Zendesk. Guidoo is a Zendesk Select Partner, assuring sophisticated solutions for your help desk.

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