7 Types of Complaints From Customers (Plus How To Resolve Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many ways to show support to customers who provide feedback about their concerns, such as a problem with a company's product or service. Managing complaints effectively can help a company retain more customers, protect its reputation and identify ways to improve customer relations. If you work in customer service, it's important to understand the different types of complaints so you know how to address customers' needs and find effective solutions.

In this article, we explain why it's important to resolve customer complaints and provide a list of seven types of complaints with strategies to resolve them in a positive way.

Related: Customer Service Skills: Definitions and 17 Examples

Why is it important to resolve customer complaints?

Customer complaints are feedback from purchasers about their issues with a company's products, services or operations. This feedback provides an opportunity for businesses to provide excellent customer service by addressing the complaint and offering a solution. It's important to resolve complaints because it can:

  • Create a better customer experience: Resolving complaints can help you understand the customers' needs and how to meet them, which can create a better customer experience.

  • Improve a company's reputation: When you work to resolve customer complaints, it shows customers you understand their concerns and take them seriously, which can improve a company's reputation.

  • Boost customer retention rates: Effectively addressing customer complaints can lead to increased customer loyalty, which can boost a company's customer retention rate.

Related: 10 Outstanding Customer Service Examples

7 types of complaints

Here are seven common types of complaints to help you understand how to resolve them effectively:

1. Product or service

A customer may make a complaint if they have problems with a company's product or service. For example, a customer may explain that a product arrived broken or that the product functions differently than they expected. When this happens, it's important to document the customer's concerns thoroughly. This documentation can help your company determine whether to change its products or services to improve the quality.

After documenting the complaint, ask questions to determine the source of the problem. You can ask the customer to show you the problem with the product to ensure they're using it correctly. If they're misusing the product, you can politely show them how to use it correctly to meet their needs. If the product is broken, most companies have policies to replace the item at no cost or offer the customer a refund. Follow your company's policy to resolve the issue for the customer.

Related: How To Respond to Customer Complaints (With Tips)

2. Wait time

This type of complaint may occur when a customer makes a call to a company, such as a call center, and experiences long hold times. It may also occur when a customer has to wait in line for service, such as waiting for a table at a restaurant. If a customer makes a complaint about the wait time, it's important to let them know you understand their time is valuable. Apologize to the customer for their wait and, if possible, provide an explanation for the wait time.

Long wait times often indicate that a company can improve its operations to serve customers more efficiently. If your business consistently has long wait times, consider ways you can improve operations to reduce those times for the customer. For example, you may consider scheduling more staff members during peak times of the week. Finding a long-term solution for wait times can be a good way to improve customer satisfaction with the business.

3. Delivery

Delivery complaints may occur when a company changes the expected delivery date of a product. It's common for online businesses, which ship their products to customers in the mail. Sometimes, the mail carrier may be the cause of the delivery delay, rather than the business. When this happens, you can look up the tracking details for the package and assure the customer it's on the way to them. If you notice the carrier may have lost the package, make sure to get in touch with the carrier to resolve the issue.

If the business causes the delivery change or delay, apologize to the customer for the inconvenience. Explain why the business may have shipped the package later than expected. For example, if you had an influx of orders over the holiday season, tell the customer you had more orders than expected. You can also offer an incentive to the customer, such as a coupon, to apologize for the delay.

4. Personnel

A personnel complaint may occur when a customer feels unhappy about their interaction with someone in the company. If a customer makes a personnel complaint, ask the customer to describe their interaction with the employee. If they're unsure of the name of the employee, ask them to provide a description of the person based on their interaction or conversation. Acknowledge the customer's frustration and apologize to them for the situation. Let them know you plan to speak with the employee about the issue.

If you're a customer service representative, you can let your manager know about the complaint so they can speak with the employee about the interaction. If you're a manager, have an honest conversation with the employee to understand the situation from their point of view. You can arrange additional training for the employee in customer service or a related area to help prevent the situation from occurring again.

Related: Learn About Being a Customer Service Representative

5. Online

This type of complaint occurs when a customer provides feedback publicly on an online forum or social media site. Because many people may see the complaint, it's important to resolve the customer's issue as quickly as possible. When you see this feedback online, reach out to the person directly to ask if you can discuss their concerns. Ask for the customer's contact information and provide your own, including your name, phone number and email, to let them know you want to resolve the issue.

When you speak with the customer, listen to their concerns carefully to understand the complaint. Take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue if you know how to fix the problem. If you're unable to handle the customer's request, you can forward the complaint to a manager and let the customer know you're working on the issue. After you resolve the complaint, you can politely ask the customer to remove their complaint. Often, customers may feel encouraged after speaking with someone and decide to take down the complaint on their own.

6. Continual

Continual complaints occur when one customer provides the same feedback more than once or if multiple customers provide the same feedback. When you receive these complaints, it's important to resolve them quickly to maintain trust with customers. Ask relevant questions to determine the source of the problem and come up with a resolution. For example, if multiple people say that a product arrived with missing parts, you can bring the issue to the attention of a manager, who can stop the product from being sold until the company resolves the issue.

Continual complaints often provide an opportunity for a business to improve its products, services or operations. Use this continual feedback to identify ways you can make changes to better meet the needs of customers. Making these changes can show customers you listen closely to their feedback and want to provide an excellent customer experience, which can help you maintain customer loyalty and improve the company's reputation.

7. Communication

Complaints related to communication may occur when there's a misunderstanding between the customer and the business. This misunderstanding may happen when a customer speaks with an employee or when a customer misinterprets a company's messaging, such as an advertisement. When communication complaints occur, it's important to acknowledge the source of the misunderstanding so you can find an appropriate solution.

If the company communicated unclearly with the customer, apologize to the customer and explain what led to the misunderstanding. Offer the customer some compensation, such as a refund or a coupon. If the customer misunderstood the communication, be respectful and calmly explain the misunderstanding without faulting the customer. Work to find a compromise that satisfies the customer's concerns, such as providing a partial refund. Often, this compromise can show the customer that a company values their business and wants to provide a positive experience for them.

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