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Handling customer complains for retailers: as easy as pie!

Posted by Linh Pham on

Receiving furious or disappointed customer calls or visits is the ineluctable duty for any retailer. However, with proper training, constant practice and patience, a Customer Service Representative (CSR) can easily go through this, that means not only he can deal with customer's complaints successfully and reserve the situation, but also maintain customers loyalty to the brand.

Surprisingly, facts show that not many people want to complain since they prefer not to stand in line and wait untill their turn to return a product they really want to keep in the first place. They just have to do it because of poor service or product disqualification while expecting for a resolution.

retail customer service

For a retailer, there are many means of communication that customer can use to give their complaints: on the phone, in person, email, chat or social media. Below are a few tips on how to deal with such complaints via the mentioned media.

On the phone

It's obvious that a CSR must always prepare to deal with disgruntled customers who expect to be listened and helped.

So take your time and listen to what they want to say without any interruption.

During the conversation, not only you have to listen to their problem but you also have to take notes carefully. In order to make it easier for your customer to express their concerns, ask both open-ended and close-ended questions, such as "How did the product look like when you opened the box?" for open-ended question, and closed-ended question should be "were you home to sign for the delivery?".

One of the most important things you have to remember is consistency, which is no matter how many customers’ complaints you have to receive that day, you need to treat everyone with the same manner you give to the most important customer. It's your mission to realise how frustrated your customers are.

Customers’ expectation, especially when they give feedback regarding your product, is something that requires  your immediate response. Moreover, the answer must be a solution, not "There's nothing we can do" - which will turn your customer crazy. Instead, you can say: "Let me see what products we have that are similar to that;” or “I am glad I can be here to help you. Let’s see what we can find so you’re happy with the outcome today.”

Once your customers complain about a problem, they certainly don't want it to happen again, which means  you must guarantee that the problem will never repeat. In order to do that, you have to take note of every single enquiry received as many detailed as possible. Also,  share these feedback with your supervisor to keep improving your products and service and strengthen customer loyalty.

Face-to-Face conversation

In  real retail environment, the job of handling angry customers would be much more difficult. You always have to be self-controlled since your customer tend to be in an aggressive mood. The top reaction that you should avoid is to defense yourself toward your customer and reciprocate their emotion.

The key thing that a CSR have to remember by heart is patience. Never lose eyecontact or being distracted to them during the conversation. Meanwhile, you also have to stay cool, modest and confident. Your duty is to help your customers calm down and find solutions for the problems with empathy no matter how angry they are. Remember, try not to be defensive by all means.


One of the disadvantages of communication via sms, chat, email…or online is that your real message can be misunderstood to be confusing, rude or sarcastic even though it isn’t. A computer standing between you and a disgruntled customer does not make the situation easier to handle.

Keep following the same step as you do to customers via phone or in person i.e. listen to what they want to say  calmly and understanding, try to give solutions and avoid excuses)

After the Interaction

To ensure you’ve handled customers’ complaints successfully,  you should ask them to confirm their satisfaction. If you receive a straight response, you can assure that you're welcomed to ask for it. Also remember to remind yourself to follow the procedures and steps that you are trained for. Make sure that you represent your brand properly and can also take the chance to up-sell or cross-sell other relevant products or services. Ask your supervisor for feedbacks about your customer interaction using notes that you've taken during the conversation. By this way, you can continuously improve your skills and handle customer complaints better and more professional.

For every CSR and Supervisor, always keep in mind that "Prevention is the best medicine". Your customers will be satisfied and more likely to come back if they have experienced an excellent customer service. This can be achieved by proper customer service training and your endeavour would be a great contribution to customer satisfaction.

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This article originally appeared on's blog by

Jodi Beuder, Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Advo­cate at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, believes customer ser­vice exists not just out­side the com­pany, but inside, too.. “Hav­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice skills and knowl­edge are para­mount to cre­at­ing strong work­ing relation­ships, whether you are in an office or out in the field.” With over 17 years in Market­ing Exec­u­tive roles, Jodi has ded­i­cated her career to assist­ing com­pa­nies grow their brand pres­ence and sales, and most impor­tantly, their cus­tomer reten­tion and satisfaction

You can contact her through her Linkedin profile here.

Topics: Retail Management System

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