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How To Respond To Customer Complaints & Win Customers Over


Learn how to respond to customer complaints across all channels and get simple, effective response scripts.

Responding to customer complaints can be challenging. It’s hard to diffuse a situation when a customer is already roaring mad. 

Investing in acquiring new customers is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than campaigns aimed at customer retention

So, diffusing the situation is always worth the effort. 

Depending on the reason for the customer complaint, you can offer free swag and coupons to keep them calm and have them falling in love with your brand all over again.

There are some instances, however, where the customer is just plain wrong, and you shouldn’t give into them. In this post, we explore both sides of the coin and give you specific guidance on how to deal with customer complaints. 

Common categories of customer complaints

Why do customers complain in the first place? It’s usually because they’ve been let down in some way. 

Their expectations were not met.

Maybe they incorrectly read your return policy, or they thought the product’s color was going to be more vibrant, based on the image online. 

When you’re first presented with a frustrated customer, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes and determine what let them down, so you can respond more empathetically.

Here are some common issues:

Website or order issues

A customer might be frustrated when your website glitches. There are so many different things that can go wrong:

  • Product page has incorrect information
  • Page or website isn’t loading
  • There are errors with checkout page form fields
  • The order confirmation page won’t load
  • An item suddenly goes out of stock and the order can’t be processed
  • The cart can’t be easily edited

The list goes on.

Customers who are faced with tech issues can easily become very frustrated. And without a fast response and resolution, they’re likely to bounce from the site. 

Because ecommerce companies offer products for website visitors to browse, this industry has some low bounce rates. But website glitches will certainly cause higher-than-desired bounce rates and consequently lower sales.

Product concerns

You might also get customer complaints about your products. Typically, a customer would complain after they bought and received the product and it didn’t meet their expectations. 

But you could get a website visitor in your chat software who is complaining before they’ve even bought the product. 

They might be trolling you after seeing a social media ad. It happens.

The majority of product-related complaints will be legitimate, however, so make sure that you not only help the customer with a refund or other solution, but that you also pass on the feedback to your manager.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning

– Bill Gates

Refund issues

Refunds and reimbursements are another big category when it comes to negative comments and chat messages from customers. 

The customer might be angry that they can’t return a clearance item, that the refund window has passed, or that they have to pay for return shipping. 

Delivery delays

Maybe the product isn’t the problem. Sometimes delivery speeds can lead to customer complaints.

Customers might complain if the item is received later than they expected, or even if they knew that there would be a delay when ordering, but are still annoyed by it. 

How to respond to customer complaints

So now that we know some common types of customer complaints, let’s figure out what to do about them. 

Top channels for handling customer support

Today, customer service and support questions happen across a variety of channels. You should respond to the customer using the channel they contact you on:

  • Original social media post – If they have complained visibly on social media from their own account, you should consider commenting on that post from your brand’s main profile or the brand’s support profile (if you have a separate one) if they have tagged you. Say something polite and simple such as “We’re sorry that your order didn’t get received on time and that our support team didn’t help. Please email us and we’ll make sure the refund is processed correctly this time.” 

  • Social media comment on your brand’s post – You should reply to every negative comment that someone writes on your branded social media posts. Respond to their concern, and then attempt to take the conversation to email or chat.

  • Chat support – Live chat is now the top support channel based on consumer preference. That means that most customer complaints will be received on that customer service channel. And that’s great news, because this is a private conversation between you and the customer, so you can address the issue right away without having to move the conversation to a different channel. 

  • Email – Some customers still prefer to contact businesses via email. Because people don’t respond to their email right away, this can delay resolution and cause further frustration. You can use an email response to prompt the customer to initiate a chat when they have time, so that the issue can be resolved live. 

  • Phone – Many ecommerce companies don’t offer phone support because of the cost, particularly when they serve multiple markets and languages. However, call support is a great channel for handling frustrated customers because you can speak directly to them, diffuse their anger with a calm voice, and resolve the issue quickly.

Templates for responding to customer complaints

Customer relationship management is ever-evolving, so make sure that you are improving your scripts and increasing your capacity for empathy. Your customer service team should be made up of people who genuinely care about your customers and want to help.

Here are some different customer service scripts you can use for customer complaint responses.

To move a conversation off of social media:

Thank you for voicing this concern. We want to help fix this issue as soon as possible. Can you please email us at support@email.com or start a chat on our website? 

To apologize for bad customer service:

I’m sorry that you didn’t get the support you needed when you chatted with our team. I want to take care of this issue personally. We’ll also make sure this doesn’t happen again and train our team to do better. Please email me at manager@email.com.

To handle delivery errors:

I apologize that you didn’t receive this order by the expected date. I want to help make this right. Click here to track your order: {{las_order_tracking_url}}.

To thank you for your patience, here’s a $10 coupon off your next order. 

Pro tip:

Provide personalized support easily by using customer variables like the last order id and tracking URL into your answer templates. Simply connect your ecommerce platform and your Gorgias helpdesk to unlock this feature.

For long, unexpected delivery delays:

You’re right, you should have received the order by now. I can ship you a replacement, and if you receive the original, please refuse the package or send it back to us if you’re not at home to refuse it.

To handle frustration about known delivery delays:

From increased demand (which we’re so grateful for!) our order fulfillment timelines have gotten a lot slower lately. We’re sorry for that. But good new, your order is on the way!

Click here to track your order: {{las_order_tracking_url}}.

We can’t wait to hear how you enjoy it, so please let us know. 

To respond to refund requests far outside the policy window:

Unfortunately, it is too far past the return window for us to process this return. Per our policy, returns can be processed up to 45 days. While I can’t process this return, I can offer you a $10 coupon off of your next purchase. 

To respond to refund requests slightly outside the policy window:

While it is past the return window, you’re only a couple days past, so I can process your return. I will create your printable return label, as our returns portal won’t allow you to initiate the return process on your own because of the timing. Would you like me to send the printable return label to the email address used for this order or a different email address?

To respond to refund requests for non returnable products:

Unfortunately, this item can’t be returned, as per our return policy. We can’t process returns for clearance items. However, I can offer you 20% off your next order. Would you like this one time coupon code?

To hand the conversation over to a manager:

I understand that you’re frustrated. I can’t help further with this situation, but I can get you in touch with a manager who might be able to help with your request. Would you prefer that she get in touch with you via email or phone?

When to escalate customer complaints to management

For the most part, you’ll need to stick with your company’s policy and not give in to angry customers, but sometimes you might need to bend.

For example, if a customer demands a refund for something outside of policy and refuses to give up on that demand, you might want to just get them in touch with the manager.

The manager or business owner might decide to allow the return, rather than to have this angry customer complain about the business online.

Essentially, you should try to handle issues yourself within policy. If a customer is asking for something outside of policy and is very demanding and angry, that’s when you should escalate the case.

You’ll have to rely on your customer service skills and intuition to help you make the right call.

When to offer special gifts and coupons (and what to give)

Should you offer gifts and bonuses to customers?

Only do so when the company is at fault. You might give a coupon code for a certain amount off their next order, or a percentage discount. Or, you might allow them to choose any product under a certain amount and you ship it to them free of charge. 

Here are some reasons when it would be appropriate to offer a special coupon or free gift:

  • The order was delivered very late
  • The customer tried repeatedly to create the order despite many website errors
  • The wrong product was received
  • The product drastically undermet expectations
  • A customer support representative provided terrible service

You shouldn’t offer special gifts or coupons or free products when a customer is bullying you, though. Don’t do it just because someone is extremely frustrated. Instead, just try to resolve their issue as best you can.

When to stick with your policies and when to bend the rules

Here’s a great quote from an ecommerce store founder about the need to sometimes let the customer be right, even when they’re not:

Our biggest mistake was not giving into crazy customers and my lesson was that it’s better to lose a little money than to be right.

For example, we’ve had instances when the customer didn’t follow a certain refund policy and still wanted a refund. Sometimes it’s better to play nice and not follow your refund policy as angry crazy customers can make you lose a lot more money. With social media at everyone’s disposal you have to be very careful.

– Alex Iconn, founder of Luxy Hair

Read the full story Luxy Hair on Shopify blog pos.

How to use automation wisely to speed up response times and reduce frustration

The faster you respond, the better the customer experience. Quick response times reduce frustration because your customer doesn’t have to feel like they’re waiting around for you.

If a customer is already upset with your company, and they have to wait a long time for a response, they might be even angrier.

The good news is that you can use Gorgias to automatically prioritize customers with negative sentiments in their messages. We can detect their frustration and make sure they hop to the front of the line. 

You can also use Gorgias to create automated responses that handle simple issues. For example, if someone says “My order hasn’t been received yet” your chat bot can reply “I’m sorry! What is the order number?” 

This way, the customer can grab the order number while a human agent is joining the chat. 

With Gorgias, rules can be used to set up automations, add tags to support messages, and prioritize certain customers. Here’s how to use rules:

Responding to customer complaints isn’t always easy. But when you make it your mission to empathize with your customers and deepen their relationship with your brand, you’ll be in the right mindset to reply.

Gorgias helps online merchants grow through exceptional customer service. Check out our platform.

Special thanks to our friends at Gorgias for their insights on this topic.
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