Adopting an Appropriate Mind-Set About Customer Complaints


  • What is our mind-set about complaints?
  • What do we want to accomplish with our service recovery approach?
  • What experiences do we want our customers to have when they give us feedback?
  • What guidelines should we follow when handling complaints?


  • What are our goals and how will we know we are getting close to them?
  • What do we currently do well?
  • What does our staff think and feel about complaints?
  • How robust are our current metrics regarding product or service failures?
  • How widely is our complaint data shared internally?
  • Have we benchmarked ourselves against our competitors?
  • Would it be useful for us to use a robust customer relationship management (CRM) program to track our complaints?


  • Do our written responses to complaints reflect our service recovery approach?
  • Does our reward system compensate for effective complaint handling?
  • Are our return policies, refunds, and guarantees in alignment with our customer philosophy?
  • Are our internal policies, procedures, and systems in alignment with our feedback philosophy?

Respond and Recover

  • Does our staff respond to complaining customers as if they have been given a gift?
  • How empowered is our staff to respond to complaints?
  • How do we handle conflicts between our staff and our customers?
  • Does everyone, in some way, take responsibility for responding and recovering for our customers?


  • How do we apply what we learn from our customers to help improve our quality?
  • What is our process enabling staff to learn from each other about effective complaint handling?
  • What is our system for sharing information across departments?
  • How do we ensure that the topic of "feedback" is on everyone’s agenda?
  • How can we use our service recovery approach in our marketing?

Source: Believe It: Complaints Are Gifts by Janelle Barlow, PhD | Graziadio Business Report, Volume 12, Issue 1

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