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Dealing with Customers’ Problems


E Column

What do you do when someone has a problem with your company, whether it is a product that isn’t right or doesn’t work, how they were treated, or any other issue that may frustrate him or her?

The first thing is not to think of them as difficult customers. When you do so, you have already made it their fault. Be open-minded and listen to them. Try to see their side.

Remember that the person who has the problem is not mad at you. They could be angry, frustrated or disheartened, and you may be bearing the brunt of that, but it’s not personal.

In Person or on the Phone:

  1. You need to listen to your customer without interrupting until they have explained in full the problem.
  2. Repeat to the customer what the problem is as you understand it to make sure that you have it right.
  3. Even if you can solve the problem within the first minute of the customer’s explanation, don’t do it. People need time to get things off their chest, and it’s our job, as customer service people to let them.


  1. Read the entire email twice before your start formulating or writing your reply. Make sure you know all the facts. And don’t read attitude into their words.
  2. Nine times out of ten it’s better to pick up the phone and call the person with the problem, rather than send your response through email.
  3. If you are responding with email, read the email through at least three times before your send it. If possible, have someone else read it.

What should you say?

“I’m sorry” is always a good start, even if it’s not your fault.

“I can understand why you are upset.”

“Thank you for letting us know about this.”

“Let me take care of that for you.”

“I will get my manager.”

“I will check into this and get back to you.” Give the customer a specific date that you will do this and ask they what is the best time.

A tip of the glass from me to you

Elizabeth SlaterE Column
by Elizabeth “E” Slater, In Short Direct Marketing

A recognized expert in the fields of direct marketing and sales in the wine marketplace. Slater has taught more wineries and winery associations how to create and improve the effectiveness of their direct marketing programs and to make the most of each customer’s potential than anyone in the wine industry today.

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