Writing Emails – responding to customer complaints

It's hard responding to a complaint by emailWhen we have to write an email in response to a complaint from a customer it can be hard to find the right words. We feel anxious and want the problem to be resolved quickly, and this attitude often results in our email sounding too brusque. Try to bear the following ten complaint handling tips in mind when replying to a complaint:

1. Start by changing your attitude. Look on the complaint as an opportunity rather than a nightmare, as with this attitude it is much easier to find the right words to put into the reply you send.

2. However the complaint came in send your email reply to it as quickly as possible, but not immediately. If you respond when you are still feeling angry then this will affect the tone of your email.

3. Reply to every complaint that comes your way personally, even if it is only to inform the customer that you have referred the matter to the relevant person to investigate and respond.

4. If you cannot agree with the person who has made the complaint, at least show that you understand that they are annoyed or disappointed, “I am sorry that you are annoyed about...”

5. Give the genuine reasons for the problem the customer is complaining about. Even better, give them a reason to believe that their complaint will result in a better solution in the future.

6. If mistakes have been made then do apologize. You should apologize for mistakes on your part, or on the part of your company. Do this at the start of the email and repeat your apology at the end of the email.

7. Show the customer that you are surprised that something has gone wrong. (Why? - so that the complainant does not get the impression that this is a frequent occurrence in your company).

8. Enhance the customer’s status by showing them that every complaint as important. Demonstrate this by ensuring that the matter is dealt with as quickly as possible and promising the client that he will be informed of developments (and keeping these promises).

9. Do not leave the customer in the lurch with the problem. Offer them concrete solutions and alternatives.

10. Conclude the email by emphasizing that, despite this incident, you hope that the customer and their company will continue to do business with your company.

Complaint handling is not an easy skill to master and doing this in writing is particularly difficult, but with practice the skills needed can be honed.