Any online retailer knows customer complaints are inevitable. With feedback par for the course of any business, digital channels have made complaining easier and a lot more visible. While disgruntled customers generally aren’t viewed as a win for businesses, they present a tremendous opportunity to set a positive precedent and turn complaints into a customer experience win.

In our opinion, feedback can be the gift that keeps on giving. If you choose to get defensive and handle complaints – guns blazing – your customers are going to get a whole lot angrier. Handle them with grace and a little personality, and you’ve got a golden opportunity to turn disgruntled customers into brand advocates.

Before we get all Oprah-esque about accentuating the positives, here are a few tips to help you handle customer complaints.

Stay Positive

Complaints are inevitable, and no matter how slick your customer service is, it’s never going to be perfect. While no-one’s upbeat all day, every day, tone can be pretty hard to discern across digital channels. Without body language or tone of voice, it can be pretty easy to misinterpret written words, so try and keep your responses fair and positive. We’re not advocating for saccharine, insincere responses, we’re saying  – keep it real, but keep it positive.

In the age of social media, customer complaints are publicly visible for all to see. This means how you respond to your customers spells make or break for potential customers.

With 7 in 10 shoppers saying they’ll spend more money with a business that provides next-level customer service, it pays to keep your customers happy, even when they’re not.


Top Tip

When responding to your customer complaints, use positive and proactive language. Instead of telling them there’s nothing you can do about an out of stock item, try a positive response like – ‘Thanks for your patience. The product will be back in stock next month, how about I place an order and make sure someone lets you know when it’s back in stock.’

The most important thing to remember is customers don’t want to be told what you can’t do; they’re reaching out because they want to know what you can do for them. So be friendly, human and solutions focused.


No Brand Lobotomies

When it comes to customer complaints, brands tend to have canned responses, often void of all personality. While templated responses may be efficient, they’re not conversational and do little to make customers feel heard or helped. To avoid your brand sounding like it’s had a lobotomy, keep it real and relevant. For example, say you’re a toy company, responding with a formal tone doesn’t match the essence of your brand. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance between an authentic brand voice and a professional approach to solving the problem.

While being buoyant and playful is great some of the time, it can make matters worse when letting a customer know their order wasn’t shipped or their goods were damaged in transit. Make sure your tone is appropriate to the complaint.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, some complaints will reach a dead-end. Scenarios like these can be challenging for businesses, but this is where simple things can be impactful. For example, sending a simple hand-written apology can make a huge difference as can offering surprise discounts with shipments. Find small opportunities to wow your unhappy customers.


Get Your Ship Together

According to Shopify, 33% of customers say they’d look to switch to a competitor after a single bad service experience. With so much riding on the shipping and delivery experience, things are bound to go wrong. And while you can’t control traffic and delays, you can control how you communicate with your customers. Ultimately, it’s transparency that counts.

When it comes to shipping, there’s bound to be mishaps. The key to keeping your customers engaged is simple: transparent tracking from your store to their door. Using a cloud-based shipping platform like Shippit, tracking history starts from the time an order is placed online and ends when the parcel is delivered. Providing clear and consistent tracking events across all carriers means small problems rarely become big ones.

Because Shippit has the smarts, automatic delay detection means parcels have nowhere to hide and you can stop wasting your time chasing parcels. What’s more, customers are invited to rate their experience at the end of each delivery. This data ensures you make better carrier allocation decisions while helping you maintain rock solid customer satisfaction.



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