Handling customer complaints - checklist

An unhappy customer calls a customer service line to complain

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.
  • Make it easy for customers to get in touch. Provide contact details on your website, consider adding a chat bot to answer simple questions and call handling functions to quickly directed customers to the right person or department.  
  • 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.
  • Give staff the authority to quickly address complaints and offer redress where appropriate.
  • 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 monitoring complaints for possible areas of the business that need your attention, 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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