Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How to Respond to a Customer Complaint? [Best Practices With Example]

Customer complaints are part of the business. No matter if you deliver top-notch services and high-quality products, customers will complain.

Everyone likes being praised, but customer complaints are also a valuable source of learning. You get to know where your product/service is lagging and how to optimize it.

So, once you have mastered how to respond to a customer complaint, your business can turn that negative response into a fruitful outcome and also increase customer satisfaction.

That’s exactly what we will talk about today in our guide. Here, you will get to learn the best practices and examples to tackle common customer complaints. So, let’s get started!

  1. Why do Customers Complain?
  2. How to Respond to Customer Complaints Effectively?
  3. Best Practices to Tackle Customer Complaints
  4. Conclusion

Why do Customers Complain?

There are two main reasons that can make your customers complain or leave negative feedback:

  1. They faced disappointment with the product/service.
  2. They were expecting more from your brand.

However, do you know that 91% of customers just leave the brand without complaining if they have trouble with it? It means that many times, you don’t even know the reason why customers are leaving your brand.

Therefore, if you get a customer complaint, don’t think of it as an individual matter. Instead, it represents the common issue that many customers face but don’t complain about and leave silently.

How to Respond to Customer Complaints Effectively?

The first thing you should remember is that you and the customer are both on the same team. The customer is like your review inspector who tests your product/service and urges you to fix the shortcomings.

Best Practices to Tackle Customer Complaints

When you receive a customer complaint, below are the few best practices you should follow to turn the negativity into positivity:

  1. Stay Calm: Negative feedback or criticism is not what you may have expected, so it may frustrate you. You may not agree with what the customer has said in the review. But it’s the moment where you should stay calm. When you are calm, you will be in a better position to tackle the situation effectively.
  2. Listen: A disappointed customer may be harsh on their words, but you must show them you are listening. You can calm them down and use words like “I understand”, “Tell me more”, etc.
  3. Ask More Questions: Once the customer has conveyed their disappointment, you should ask more questions. This will make the customer feel valued and also let you learn more about the issue.
  4. Provide an Action Plan: Once the complaint is clear, provide the customer with a clear action plan on how you will tackle the situation and resolve it.

In short, customer complaints need your patience, attention, and commitment to tackle the situation effectively and extract valuable outcomes from it.

Let’s now talk about a few common customer complaints as an example and learn how to respond to a customer complaint:

1. Long Waiting for the Reply

Customers today need an abrupt response to their queries. They don’t like to hold long on phones or wait hours for your replies. In fact, 75% of online customers intend to get help in 5 minutes after making online contact.

How to respond to a customer complaint about a long wait?

A long waiting time often happens when the support team is busy dealing with other customers or your support process lacks automation.

Therefore, a few of the recommended solutions to tackle this are as follows:

  1. Hire more customer support representatives.
  2. Automate customer support with chatbots. For instance, VOC AI Chatbot allows you to create your AI-powered bot that can resolve 80% of support queries autonomously.

You should also send a proper reply to the customer about the reason behind the long wait to calm down the situation until you resolve it. You can use and customize the below formal and causal replies:


Subject: Acknowledgement and Update on Your Query

Dear [Customer’s Name],

I sincerely apologize for the delay in addressing your query. I have personally looked into the matter with our [department] and discovered that resolving [task] will take approximately [time]. I understand the value of your time, and I assure you that I am actively working on expediting the process.

I kindly request your patience, and I commit to providing you with a comprehensive update by [time]. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: Oops! We’re on it!

Hey [Customer’s Name],

My bad for making you wait – totally not cool! Your [task] got caught up in the whirlwind of things here. I’ve dug into it, and it looks like we’re on track to have it sorted by [time]. Thanks a million for your patience!

I’ll keep you in the loop, and if you’ve got any burning questions in the meantime, hit me up.


[Your First Name]

2. Delayed Shipment

Most of the time, customer complaints are related to delayed shipments. To better understand customers’ frustration in this matter, put yourself in their place and imagine how you will feel when the product you cannot wait to use is delayed.

How to respond to a customer complaint about delayed shipment?

Shipment delays can occur due to any reason, and you cannot prevent them from happening. However, what you should do is quickly inform the customer about the shipment delay as soon as you know it won’t arrive on time.

If you fail to inform, you may receive a complaint from the customer. In that case, you should write an apology letter and properly explain the reason behind the delay. If you can offer some compensation, it will be much more helpful.

Below are formal and causal responses you can send to customers for delayed shipment:


Subject: Apology and Compensation for Delayed Shipment

Hello [Customer’s Name],

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

I sincerely apologize for the delay in shipping your order [order number]. Unfortunately, we encountered an unexpected hiccup with our supplier, and we failed to communicate this to you in a timely manner. I understand the frustration this may have caused, and I’m committed to making it right.

I have personally expedited the processing of your order, and you can expect it to reach you by [time]. To express our regret for the inconvenience and lack of communication, I’d like to offer you a 20% discount on all our [product type]. Simply use the code [discount code] at checkout; this code is valid until the end of August.

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding.

Thank you,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: Oops! Your [Product Name] Update

Hey there [Customer’s Name],

So, turns out your [product name] is taking a bit of a detour – apologies for that! The supplier threw us a curveball, and we dropped the ball on letting you know in time. My bad.

Good news, though! I pulled some strings, and your package is now on the express lane. It should be in your hands by [time]. To make it up to you, enjoy a sweet 20% off on all our [product type] with the code [code]. Feel free to use it until the end of August.

Thanks a ton for your patience and understanding. Any more questions? I’m here for you.


[Your First Name]

3. Product Unavailability

Sometimes an out-of-stock product may make a customer disappointed and raise a complaint for it. If you receive such complaints, then it means those customers are loyal. Therefore, you have to prioritize giving them a convincing response to make them willingly wait instead of purchasing from your competitors.

How to respond to a customer complaint about product unavailability?

The best way to handle such complaints is to be transparent about the restocking. Moreover, you also have to make them feel valued by letting them know that they will be the first ones to know once the product is back in stock. However, if you receive more complaints about product unavailability, you must increase your product supply.

The formal and casual responses to product unavailability complaints are as follows:


Subject: Update on [Product] Availability

Dear [Customer’s Name],

Thank you for your inquiry and for being a valued customer of [Your Company]. We appreciate your interest in [product].

Currently, we are in the process of restocking our inventory, and we expect [the product] to be available again by [time]. We understand that waiting can be inconvenient, so I’ve taken the liberty of adding you to our priority notification list. This means you’ll be among the first to know once [product] is back in stock.

We appreciate your patience and understanding. Should you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: Heads up! [Product/Service] Update

Hey [Customer’s Name],

Thanks a bunch for hitting us up about [product or service]! We’re stoked to have you as part of our awesome community.

Quick heads up – right now, [product or service] is taking a little break, but don’t worry, it’ll be back in action by [date]. You’re a VIP in our book, so I’ve got you on the list to be the first to know when it’s back on the shelves.

Hang tight, and I’ll shoot you a message as soon as it’s good to go. If you’ve got any burning questions, hit me up anytime.


[Your First Name]

4. Unprofessional Customer Support Agent

Sometimes, customer support agents misbehave with the customer or are unable to understand/satisfy customers’ queries. A bad customer support experience significantly increases the chance of losing customers. Therefore, getting complaints about customer support agents should be dealt with as a priority.

How to respond to a customer complaint about an unprofessional customer support agent?

You should first identify the root cause that led to the customer’s dissatisfaction. It may be due to the agent’s misbehavior or the customer making false claims.

If you think the fault was from the support agent, then you should provide additional training and also update customer support policies accordingly. In some cases, support agents lose their cold due to workload pressure. If that’s the case, then try to integrate a chatbot to reduce the workload of support agents.

Besides that, you should send the customer an email to acknowledge the issue, apologize sincerely, and ensure that you are taking proper measures to avoid this happening again.


Subject: Acknowledgement and Apology Regarding Your Recent Interaction

Dear [Customer’s Name],

Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your recent experience with [rep’s name]. We sincerely apologize for any dissatisfaction you may have encountered during your interaction.

We take such matters very seriously, and I assure you that we will thoroughly review the conversation between you and [rep’s name]. If any inappropriate behavior or shortcomings are identified, appropriate actions will be taken, including additional training for the support team and updates to our customer support policies.

Your feedback is invaluable, and we are committed to ensuring that incidents like this do not happen again. We truly appreciate your understanding and patience in this matter.

If you have any further concerns or if there’s anything specific you would like us to address, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We value your business and hope to have the opportunity to regain your trust.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: We Messed Up – Sorry About That!

Hey [Customer’s Name],

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say we’re really sorry about your recent run-in with [rep’s name]. Your experience is important to us, and we’re bummed to hear it didn’t meet your expectations.

I’m diving into the convo to figure out where things went sideways. If [rep’s name] dropped the ball, we’ll make sure they get the extra training they need. We’re all about learning and improving, so this doesn’t happen again.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention, and we hope you give us another shot to make things right. If you have any more thoughts or concerns, feel free to hit me up.


[Your First Name]

5. Lack of Response on Social Media Platforms

Customer interactions are no longer confined to websites, emails, or phone calls. Many have started using social media platforms as the first place to interact with brands before making a purchase.

Therefore, another complaint these days is delayed or no response on social media platforms. So, if you receive such complaints, it means you are losing many potential customers unintentionally.

How to respond to a customer complaint about no response on social media?

It is not easy to manage multiple communication channels today. Therefore, you should leverage technological advancements where possible, and one such useful technology today is chatbots.

Chatbots can integrate with social media platforms and can address many customer queries autonomously. You can easily create interactive chatbots for Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, and other platforms.

Other than chatbots, you can also keep things human-driven by assigning 1-2 support agents to handle social media messages. Besides improving your social media presence, you should also send a formal or causal response to customers for their complaint, as follows:


Subject: Apology and a Token of Appreciation for Your Patience

Hello [Customer’s Name],

Thank you for reaching out, and I want to extend my sincere apologies for the delayed response. Your feedback is valuable to us, and I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.

To address your question, [answer to the outdated question]. I understand that our initial contact was not up to par, and for that, we would like to make amends. Please use the discount code [code] for a 10% discount on [product/service] for the next two months as a token of appreciation for your patience.

Additionally, we are taking steps to enhance our social media presence and responsiveness. From today onward, you can connect with us on Messenger anytime from [time] to [time] during [time of the week].

We appreciate your understanding and hope to have the opportunity to better serve you in the future.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: Our Bad! Let’s Make It Right ????

Hey [Customer’s Name],

Long time, no talk! Sorry for ghosting you on social media – we dropped the ball there.

To answer your question from way back when, [answer to the outdated question]. You might be in the loop by now, but just in case!

To make up for our social media snafu, here’s a little treat: use the code [code] for a sweet 10% off [product/service] for the next two months. Consider it our way of saying sorry!

Oh, and the good news? You can hit us up on Messenger anytime now, from [time] to [time] during [time of the week].

Hope to catch up soon!


[Your First Name]

6. Prolonged Resolution Time

Customers’ preferences and demands are changing, and that’s what we can see now in their desire to get issues resolved quickly. As per research, 78% of online customers intend to get their issues resolved within the first interaction.

When their issues take longer to resolve, they can get disappointed, raise complaints, and may also leave your brand.

How to respond to a customer complaint about prolonged resolution time?

You have to look into the loopholes in your customer service and start addressing them. Besides that, you should create a chatbot that can handle common customer complaints autonomously and instantly, such as checking order status, answering common questions, etc.

Meanwhile, you have to calm down the customer with a nice and convincing apology message so that they can feel valued.


Subject: Apology and Improvement Notice for Extended Resolution Time

Hello [Customer’s Name],

Thank you for reaching out to us regarding [subject].

We sincerely apologize for the prolonged resolution time you’ve experienced. Your satisfaction is of utmost importance to us, and we understand the frustration this delay may have caused.

Rest assured, we are actively working on enhancing our resolution process. As a step towards improvement, we’ve implemented a new feature on our website that allows you to do [simple tasks], which can help streamline certain aspects of issue resolution. For step-by-step instructions, please refer to [instructions].

We appreciate your understanding and patience during this period. If there’s anything else we can assist you with or if you have further concerns, please feel free to let us know.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]


Subject: Oops! Our Bad – Let’s Make It Right ????

Hey [Customer’s Name],

Got your message about [subject], and I want to say sorry for the major delay in getting things sorted.

Our whole [team name] is on it, working hard to wrap up this issue. I’ll drop you a message as soon as we’re all good to go. Thanks a ton for your patience!

Quick heads up – we’ve added a cool new feature on our website. Now, you can take care of some [simple tasks] directly. Check out the details [instructions].

Hope this smooths things over a bit. Any other questions, just shoot them my way!


[Your First Name]


Customer complaints look like a setback, but they are actually a trigger to come back stronger. Therefore, you should consider every customer complaint as an opportunity. In the meantime, you should also master how to respond to a customer complaint to make them calm down until you resolve their issues.

So, we will wrap up by recommending you prioritize customer complaints and use this guide as your reference in responding to complaints proficiently.