Posted by: snaed | August 22, 2009



1. Express regret – sincerely (don’t say …we can’t understand how this happened… because this implies that the customer is careless or stupid – since no-one else has had this trouble).

2. Explain how the trouble occurred (the customer is entitled to know what went wrong- this also reflects well on your business, since it shows that you’ve taken the complaint seriously enough to investigate it thoroughly – and we all like to be taken seriously!).

3. Tell the customer what you are going to do to rectify the situation – the best thing to do is exactly what the customer said he / she wanted. If this is totally impossible, suggest a viable alternative.

Sometimes the customer will be at fault – by forgetting to include a correct address, or leaving out the cheque. Again, don’t say anything, which might make the customer feel silly.

NOT “… you failed to enclose your cheque …”

BUT “Your goods are packed and ready for dispatch. Immediately on receipt of your cheque, which apparently was overlooked in, we shall send them as requested.”

Sometimes, it is just not possible to give the customer what he / she wants; and in this case you must exercise extreme tact in how you say things.

The best way of refusing is as follows:

1. Begin with the refusal – I know it’s painful, but it’s far better to let your customer know how things stand from the very beginning.

2. Explain, in detail, why the request had to be refused. This way, you have the rest to try to set things right with your customer, and hopefully to end on a positive note (rather than hitting him / her with the refusal at the end).

Note * the expression of regret should sound sincere. “I am sorry… ” sounds better than the colder, “I regret to inform you … “

* point out all the reasons for refusing the request

* soften the blow by offering some small consideration. It might be a discount on the next purchase; a voucher for a smaller item (a scarf, tie etc); a complimentary gizmo from another business (with whom you have a reciprocal arrangement); flowers; tickets to a film or whatever.

* Such ‘sweeteners’ are worth much more than their cost. Instead of a disgruntled customer, blackening your name, you’ll have a happy person, willing to tell everyone her story’s happy ending. Listeners will see your side and will say things like, ” …well, they didn’t have to do anything really, but wasn’t it nice of them?”


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