Handling customer complaints - checklist

The word 'dissatisfied' circled by a red pencil

From having a clear complaints-handling procedure to training staff and improving systems, use our checklist to better manage customers' complaints.

  • Actively encourage feedback from customers - including complaints if they are dissatisfied.
  • Establish a clear complaints-handling procedure. Ensure that all employees who come into contact with customers understand it.
  • Respond as quickly as possible, especially when the complaint occurs on social media to minimise damage.
  • Be polite and sympathetic, and avoid knee-jerk reactions or anger. Listen to what the customer has to say.
  • Take ownership of the complaint. Give your name as a contact even if you will have to involve others in resolving the complaint.
  • On social media, give a polite public acknowledgement and then take the matter private straight away: do not allow things to play out in public.
  • Establish the facts. Consider whether any internal investigation is needed to gather further information.
  • Record the details of the complaint, including when it was made, the customer's customer name and contact details.
  • If possible, deal with the complaint immediately. If necessary, agree a deadline for getting back to the customer.
  • Carry out any necessary further investigations.
  • If the complaint has potentially significant legal consequences, contact your legal adviser.
  • If the investigation takes a long time, keep the customer informed of progress.
  • Once you have established that the complaint is justified, make appropriate restitution. Apologise for your error.
  • Be prepared to reject unreasonable complaints or demands, but in a positive way: explain what resolution you can offer.
  • If appropriate, take internal action to prevent the problem recurring, for example, by training staff or improving products, services or systems.
  • Follow up by contacting the customer to check that the complaint has been resolved to their satisfaction.
  • If the complaint was posted online, consider asking if the customer would be happy to remove it or post a follow-up stating that the matter is now resolved.
  • If a negative comment stays online, consider how to reassure other customers. For example, by stating what measures you've taken to improve the issue or posting testimonials from happy customers.

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