ZingTrain Tip: Handling Complaints

Complaints are inevitable. Even if you are doing your best to offer excellent customer service and provide quality products or services, there is always a chance something will go wrong. You have the power to turn an issue into an opportunity and build a relationship with a customer.

Zingerman’s has a system for effectively handling complaints that we highly suggest you adopt at your business or organization. It includes:

1. Acknowledge the complaint: Verbally recognize that you’ve heard what the customer said. Even saying “Oh my gosh!” can show you are listening.

2. Sincerely apologize: Your first instinct may be to explain why it happened, but before saying anything, simply apologize. It doesn’t admit fault, but shows you recognize the guest hasn’t had the best experience, and you truly feel sorry for that. Don’t make excuses, either. Often the customer doesn’t care why it happened; they want to know what will be done to fix it.

3. Take action: It’s time to make things right! Start small, like replacing a product. If that doesn’t fix the problem, add something else, like replacing the product AND offering a gift card. It’s important to give your staff the power to take action, too, rather than frustrating the customer by making them wait for staff to “talk to the manager.”

4. Thank them: Yes, thank them. It seems silly, but if you don’t know about a problem, how can you fix it? Rather than complaining, people could tell others about an issue without you even recognizing it. Thank them for bringing it to your attention.

5. Document: Create a system for documenting the complaint, helping you collect data and identify consistent issues. Zingerman’s uses “Code Red” forms, which can be found on their website below.

Learn more about their 5 Steps for Effectively Handling Complaints at:

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s July 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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