July 17, 2023
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Best Guide to Resolve 9 Common Customer Complaints Smoothly

Solving Customer Complaints like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide for Seamless Resolution

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In any business, encountering customer complaints is an inevitable part of the journey. While each complaint may differ in nature, there are several common issues that customers frequently encounter.

In this guide, we provide a step-by-step approach to seamlessly address and resolve the 9 most frequent customer complaints. Follow these actionable strategies to enhance customer satisfaction, foster loyalty, and ultimately thrive in a competitive eCommerce market.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities: How Resolving Common Complaints Drives Business Growth

Resolving complaints isn’t just firefighting; it’s essential for business success and growth. By addressing customer complaints directly, companies unlock numerous benefits that contribute to their prosperity.

  • Amplified Customer Advocacy: Successfully resolving complaints turns dissatisfied customers into loyal brand advocates. Case studies* reveal that customers whose complaints are resolved are more likely to recommend the business, becoming influential brand ambassadors.
  • Increased Customer Lifetime Value: Loyal customers tend to spend more, resulting in increased customer lifetime value and improved financial performance.
  • Competitive Edge in the Market: Effective resolution of common complaints differentiates businesses and creates a competitive edge. 
  • Valuable Insights for Improvement: Each complaint holds valuable insights for business enhancement. Analyzing common complaints helps companies understand customer needs, refine products and services, and foster continuous growth and innovation.
  • Positive Online Reputation: Online reviews significantly impact reputation. Resolving complaints effectively generates positive customer feedback, strengthening the company’s online reputation. This attracts new consumers who trust a brand with exceptional customer service.

*Statistics and Numbers that Showcase the Importance of Resolving Complaints

  1. According to a study by the Institute of Customer Service, 67% of buyers who had their complaint resolved said they would recommend the company to others.
  2. A report by Customer Contact Week Digital revealed that 95% of consumers are willing to continue doing business with a company if their complaint is resolved on the first contact. This demonstrates the importance of prompt resolution.
  3. A study conducted by Lee Resources International found that for every customer who complains, 26 others remain silent about their dissatisfaction. Resolving complaints effectively prevents negative word-of-mouth and retains a larger customer base.
  4. In a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 89% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a business. Resolving complaints and receiving positive feedback significantly impact a business’s online reputation and attract potential customers.
  5. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs shared that customers who resolve their complaints will share positive experiences with 4-6 people.

The Fallout of Poor Complaint Resolution on Business Image

IMG -2- Fallout of Poor Complaint Resolution on Business Image

Contrarily, poor complaint resolution has damaging consequences for a business’s reputation.

  • Damaged Online Reputation: Unresolved complaints result in negative online reviews, eroding trust and credibility. Potential customers rely on online feedback. A negative online reputation is a significant setback.
  • Customer Dissatisfaction and Churn: Mishandling or ignoring complaints leaves customers dissatisfied and seeking alternatives. Dissatisfaction leads to churn, directly impacting revenue and growth potential.
  • Lost Business Opportunities: Poor complaint resolution affects existing customers and deters potential ones, negatively affecting the customer experience ecosystem. Common complaints spread quickly, causing prospects to choose competitors with superior complaint resolution policies and excellent customer service.

Resolving common complaints isn’t just a reactive strategy; it’s a proactive approach for business growth. Neglecting complaint resolution results in a damaged reputation, dissatisfied customers, and missed growth opportunities. Embracing complaints as improvement opportunities is key to success.


Elevating Support for Enhanced Satisfaction: Resolving Poor Customer Service

One of the most common consumer complaints comes from poor customer service. These complaints generate client churn, resulting in a substantial decrease in revenue. It also catalyzes the spread of damaging reviews, inflicting long-term harm to a brand’s reputation. Moreover, it directly impacts employee satisfaction and morale.

How To Eradicate One Of The Most Common Complaints Caused by Poor Customer Service

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  • To address one of the most common complaints, begin with a comprehensive big data analysis. Collect historical data, and group it by a specific cause. Discover the root cause. Do not stop asking questions until you get the answers: are complaints related to delayed service, unresolved issues, poor communication, a lack of empathy from the service team, or some other reason? Use the Pareto chart and 20-80 rule to identify two-three major culprits.
  • Perform competitive analysis and learn from best practices.
  • Invest in targeted training programs. Training should cover detailed product knowledge, improving communication skills, and cultivating a sense of empathy. According to a BusinessSolver study, 96% of common complaints come from one of the three listed issues.
  • Monitor customer interactions and feedback. Tools such as CRM systems will effectively track and analyze service quality. Companies that proactively incorporate customer feedback experience a 14.9% lower churn rate, as stated by Retently.
  • Transparency in communication should be a high priority. Businesses that maintain open communication channels during problem resolution, such as Zappos, enjoy higher customer trust and satisfaction.
  • Lastly, develop an effective complaint resolution process. Unresolved complaints lead to a 72% increase in customer attrition.

In essence, rectifying poor customer service involves an integrated approach. It calls for active listening, continuous learning, and the prioritization of customer satisfaction above all.


How To Deal with Common Complaints Resulting From Poor Resolution

IMG -4- How To Deal with Common Complaints Resulting From Poor Resolution

Unsatisfactory resolutions to criticism might severely harm your business. Besides a damaged reputation, legal consequences may arise.

According to a 2022 Qualtrics study, 32% of consumers take legal action if their complaint isn’t solved as expected. A Harvard study indicates a 25% revenue loss due to poor resolution of common customer complaints.

Loss of future opportunities is another challenge. Unsatisfactory resolutions lead to negative word-of-mouth, affecting potential business relations. Accenture reports that over 70% of customers won’t purchase from a company that has bad reviews.

Swift issue identification ensures rapid resolutions. Amazon’s 12-hour resolution time sets a prime example. Do not wait – angry buyers are not patient. In more than 75% of cases, they immediately share their poor experience on social media.

CX Manager’s Dilemma: Resolving Complaints when Customers Were (Not) Right

Many common complaints are caused by the appeal of a previously poorly resolved complaint.

One of the most important CX manager’s tasks is to monitor and investigate each “complaint to a complaint resolution” situation.

The first step to solving this type of common complaint is to establish open communication, confirming that the complaint is heard by a senior manager. In over 90% of cases, this action prevents a premature, explosive customer reaction. Simply put, by yourself time.

Secondly, investigate the specific situation to discover which scenario you face:

  1. The customer is indeed right to be dissatisfied with the resolution of the previous complaint.
  2. The customer has unrealistic expectations, and the previous complaint was resolved according to company procedures.

When Customers are Right: Repairing Previous Complaint Resolutions for Lasting Customer Loyalty

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Based on numerous case studies and best practices, here are the steps to follow when resolving common complaints caused by unsatisfactory resolution.

Step 1: Review the Previous Complaint Rejection

Contact the customer to initiate a conversation and embrace the error. Express sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused by the previous rejection and demonstrate your commitment to resolving their complaint. Statistics show that over 90% of unsatisfied consumers promptly contacted by higher management will not share negative experiences. Over 60% will initiate a positive impression on social media.

Step 2: Reassess the Customer’s Complaint

Thoroughly review the details of the previous complaint resolution. Examine the customer’s initial complaint, the response, and supporting documentation. Identify the causes and areas that need correction.

Step 3: Provide a Fair Resolution

Determine an appropriate resolution. Offer compensation, a replacement product/service, or other means to rectify the situation and restore trust in your company. The best effect is when consumers feel appreciated when offered multiple choices. If you add something extra (discounts on next purchases, freebies, gift cards, etc.) in over 95% of cases, you’ll make a total shift from an angry customer to a loyal brand advocate.

Step 4: Learn from the Situation

Evaluate the factors that led to the erroneous complaint rejection, such as miscommunication, a lack of clarity in policies, or inadequate training of customer service representatives. Identify areas for improvement within the complaint resolution process to prevent similar future mistakes.

Step 5: Update Company Manual and Processes

Based on the lessons learned, update your company’s complaint resolution manual and processes. Incorporate the necessary revisions to ensure clarity, fairness, and accuracy. Provide comprehensive guidelines for handling similar situations, and equip your customer service team with new knowledge and skills.

Step 6: Train Employees and Communicate Changes

Train your employees on the updated complaint resolution procedures and any revisions made to the company manual. Clearly communicate the changes, emphasizing the importance of fairness, empathy, and accuracy in resolving complaints. Encourage open communication within the team to share experiences, insights, and best practices for effective complaint resolution.

Following these steps, you will rectify previous erroneous complaint rejections, improve your company’s complaint resolution process, and foster a customer-centric culture focused on continuous improvement. Remember, every complaint is an opportunity to learn, grow, and enhance customer satisfaction.

The Customer Is Always Right Even When They Are Not

The customer isn’t always right, even when they are not. Yet, appeasing them often outweighs potential losses. It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, states Invesp. Negative experiences also deter potential customers.

According to McKinsey, word-of-mouth impacts 60-70% of all purchasing decisions. Opting for immediate resolution, saves on future costs. Although painful, appeasing a buyer, even when they are wrong, is always a smart investment.

Even the largest industry giants practice reimbursing unsatisfied customers, although they were not right. As social media’s impact grows, keeping the good name outranks all other options.

Companies can’t afford to disappoint consumers.


Ensuring Product Quality: Addressing Issues and Delivering Superior Standards

IMG -6- Resolve Common Customer Complaints caused by Poor product quality

Poor product quality can have devastating effects on businesses and consumers alike. From reputational damage to financial losses, the repercussions are far-reaching.

It is imperative for businesses to prioritize quality throughout their product development and manufacturing processes, ensuring that their offerings meet or exceed customer expectations.

When the company doesn’t meet the buyer’s expectations, 10-15% file a complaint. This is a commonly observed range based on general industry knowledge and customer service practices. Actual percentages may vary depending on numerous factors specific to each industry, company, or product.

Alarming is the fact that 90-96% consumers will not file a complaint but share a bad experience with friends on social media. Remember, unsatisfied buyers share their opinions! As the CX Manager, you should appreciate each complaint reaching your customer service department. It is an opportunity to establish trust, create a loyal customer base, and improve your department and the entire company.

Most Common Complaints: Product Differs From How It Looks In The Image

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The disappointment when a customer receives the order and finds it differs from the images and description might be the cause of the most common complaints. Here are some alarming case studies showing the frequency and causes of the described issue:

  1. Narvar Consumer Report: “The State of Online Returns” (2019) This study found that 49% of shoppers have returned an online purchase in the past year. The most common reasons for returns were: the item didn’t match the website description or images (22%), and the shopper received the wrong item (11%).
  2. Brightpearl’s “The State of Returns: What’s Impacting Retail Profitability” (2020) In this report, 38% of retailers noted that product returns significantly impact their profit margins. They found that most returns were due to products not meeting customer expectations regarding look and feel.
  3. Shopify’s report on “Why Online Retailers Are Losing 67.45% of Sales and What to Do About It” (2019) Although this report doesn’t directly provide a percentage on the specific issue of items differing from their images, it does highlight that product returns are a big issue. They found that a major reason for cart abandonment is concerns about product authenticity and whether the product would match its online description.

Combining the listed facts with the average of 4% of all unsatisfied consumers actually filing a complaint, CX managers should pay special attention to this common cause of complaints.

Addressing the issue will 

  • convert disappointed customers into loyal shoppers
  • prevent churn caused by bad reviews and social buzz
  • indirectly reduce the overall churn rate by preventing the 96% disappointed buyers who do not file a complaint.


Steps To Follow To Eliminate Common Complaints Caused By Consumers’ Disappointment

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To effectively prevent this common complaint and improve your company’s reputation and profit, you should follow the next tested and proven steps:

  1. Step 1: Review the complaint, contact the customer, apologize sincerely, and show commitment to resolving the complaint.
  2. Step 2: Provide a fair resolution by offering compensation, replacements, or additional options to turn the customer into a loyal advocate.
  3. Step 3: Evaluate the factors that led to the complaint’s rejection, pinpointing areas for improvement.
  4. Step 4: Turn on the company’s alarm and share the problem with other departments, specifically teams responsible for product descriptions and visuals.
  5. Step 5: Work on adjusting product descriptions and visuals to reality.
  6. Step 6: If needed, conduct personnel training.


Common Complaints: Product Doesn’t Fit Or Fulfill The Described Purpose

When it comes to common complaints, one prevalent issue is when a product doesn’t fit or fulfill the described purpose. While this complaint can be frustrating for customers, it is not as damaging to the company’s reputation as other typical complaints. 

There are two methods for resolving this complaint effectively: reimbursement or exchanging the product for another, allowing the shopper to choose the preferred option. This flexibility empowers the customer and demonstrates a commitment to resolving the issue in a way that suits their needs.

One essential aspect of the resolution process is establishing clear instructions regarding who covers the transportation costs for the replacement. The decision should be based on determining whose mistake led to the issue: the buyer or the company.

  • If the mistake lies with the buyer, it is reasonable to expect them to cover the transportation costs.
  • If the company is at fault, taking responsibility for the transportation expenses is a fair and necessary step.
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When it comes to the common complaint of a product not fitting or fulfilling its described purpose, it’s crucial to resolve it after the buyer’s first contact with customer service. If that is not the issue, customer experience managers should roll up their sleeves and investigate the matter.

  1. Assess whether the fault lies with a specific representative or if the standard operating procedure (SOP) needs improvement.
  2. If it was an individual’s error, decide whether to provide additional training or consider terminating the employment of the representative based on the severity and frequency of the mistakes.
  3. If the SOP was at fault, revise the procedure manual to provide clearer instructions and address any gaps or ambiguities.
  4. Conduct comprehensive training sessions for the entire team to ensure everyone understands the updated procedure and can effectively handle similar complaints.


Swift Solutions for Delayed Deliveries: Resolving Challenges for Timely Arrival

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Late deliveries and lack of notifications are common issues resulting in numerous consumer complaints. The most common complaints arising from these problems include inconvenience, frustration, and dissatisfaction. Customers expect timely deliveries and notifications. 

Here are steps you should take to address such common customer complaints effectively.

  • Ensure prompt and empathetic communication with the unsatisfied customer. 
  • Acknowledge the issue, apologize, 
  • Provide updates.

Since WISMO questions take up a huge percentage of customer service time, you should eliminate the root cause.

Read more on reducing the time spent on WISMO questions and complaints resulting from delayed deliveries in our article, 10 Ecommerce Best Practices to Eliminate WISMO.

Eliminating the cause of these common complaints is a strategic problem that must be tackled at the company level. One step you can take is to introduce automated tracking software into your eCommerce procedures.

Keeping Customers Informed: Improving Order Status Updates for Peace of Mind

With an excellent eCommerce order tracking app, you’ll eliminate the root cause, thus minimizing complaints coming from a lack of notifications. When choosing the best delivery tracking software, consider the additional features you’ll get.

IMG -11- Improving Order Status Updates for Peace of Mind

TrackMage offers a range of features beyond order tracking by package number. These include:

  1. Supports tracking for over 1000 carriers and shipping providers.
  2. Sends real-time updates on order processing, fulfillment, and delivery.
  3. Sends timely notifications using eCommerce email flows, SMS, or push notifications.
  4. Increases the number of positive reviews and real-time feedback.
  5. Boost profit by sending timely, unintrusive upsell marketing messages.
  6. Strengthens brand loyalty with post-purchase messaging.
  7. Offers detailed analytics and reporting for shipping performance and trends.
  8. Order Consolidation: Allows tracking of multiple packages or orders as a single shipment.
  9. Returns Management: Streamlines the returns process with tracking and status updates.
  10. Custom Branding: Allows businesses to customize the tracking page with their branding.
  11. API Integration: Seamlessly integrates with e-commerce platforms and systems.

TrackMage’s features enhance the omnichannel customer experience, positively impact profit rise, and minimize common customer complaints.

TrackMage offers a two-week free trial after which you’ll get full onboarding support.


Honoring Discounts: Fulfilling Promises and Avoiding False Claims

One of the most common complaints arises from misleading advertising or discounts. In such situations, you play a vital role in resolving these issues. Let’s consider two scenarios and the actions you should take in each case.

IMG -12-Fulfilling Promises and Avoiding False Claims

Scenario 1:

When the customer doesn’t understand the advertisement or discount notification, approach the complaint with empathy and patience. 

  • Actively listen to the customer’s concerns and clarify any confusion. 
  • Provide clear and transparent explanations of the offer, ensuring the customer fully comprehends the terms and conditions. 
  • If necessary, offer additional examples or information to facilitate understanding, such as adjusting the discount or providing an alternative offer.

Scenario 2:

When the customer is right about the misleading advertising or discount, take immediate responsibility and apologize for the mistake. 

  • Acknowledge the validity of the complaint and assure the customer that appropriate actions will be taken to rectify the situation. 
  • Offer a fair resolution compensating for the inconvenience caused, such as honoring the advertised discount, providing a refund, or offering a replacement. 
  • Communicate the steps to prevent similar incidents in the future, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction and building trust.

These actions resolve immediate concerns and contribute to long-term customer loyalty and a positive brand reputation.


Enhancing Product Availability: Overcoming Challenges for Seamless Purchasing

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The 8th most common customer complaint happens when the buyer discovers that a desired product is unavailable. If your eCommerce website is not set up correctly, the worst-case scenario is when the bad revelation happens at the end of the checkout process.

Out-of-stock situations for desired products negatively impact customer satisfaction. Statistical data shows that over 75% of buyers will leave your online store and go to competitors. It is a severe issue, resulting in lost sales, frustrated customers, and a damaged reputation. When a customer finds that a desired product is unavailable, it creates a sense of disappointment and inconvenience.

You can employ several strategies to appease customers and mitigate the negative impact.

  • Offer discounts for the next purchase to retain a buyer and prevent a lost sale.
  • Introduce automated updates on product availability via email or SMS. Never use terms such as “available soon” or “as soon as possible”. Those phrases mean nothing. Be specific and honest. Your customers will appreciate it, and the chances they’ll remain loyal will be much higher.
  • Gift cards and coupons can be given as a gesture of goodwill, allowing customers to choose an alternative item or receive a discount on their next purchase.
  • Implementing loyalty programs and offering exclusive benefits, rewards, or early access to restocked items, encourages customers not to go to competitors.
  • Offer a substitute product along with a small gift. The chances of alleviating customer disappointment are high. Showing a willingness to go above and beyond to improve the consumer’s experience provokes a subconscious feeling of obligation.

It is important to monitor if this type of common complaint is resolved after the first contact with customer service.

Establish whether one CX representative or the entire team was to blame for the repeats, as in the previous examples.

If out-of-stock common complaint resolutions are often not solved after the first contact, you should organize additional staff training and update the SOP manual.


Simplifying Product Manuals: Clarity for Easy Understanding and Usage

IMG -14-Simplifying Product Manuals to Avoid Common Complaints

A difficult eCommerce onboarding process or confusing instruction manuals are to blame for the final group of common complaints. Even worse, only 4% of buyers will actually file a complaint, giving you a chance to mitigate the situation and save the sale. A larger percentage will return the product and turn to your competitors.

To minimize these common complaints, the following actions should be taken:

  1. Simplify and optimize the onboarding experience to ensure a smooth customer transition. Provide clear and concise instructions, avoiding unnecessary steps or complex procedures. 
  2. Improve instructional manuals. Use simple language, visual aids, and step-by-step guides to make the manuals more user-friendly and understandable. Upload YouTube videos and provide downloadable assets on your website. Statistics show that is the most appreciated way to help shoppers properly assemble and use your products.
  3. Enhance customer support. Offer accessible and responsive customer support channels, such as live chat, email, or phone, to assist customers with any questions or difficulties they may encounter during onboarding.
  4. If you are selling products that require constant onboarding for new consumers, consider full or partial outsourcing to a professional customer experience company. Your new customers expect 24/7 support. Without it, the chances for a complaint multiply rapidly.
  5. Conduct usability testing before launching a product or onboarding process. Thorough usability testing with a diverse group of users is necessary to identify any confusing areas. Make necessary improvements before release.
  6. Actively seek shoppers’ feedback regarding their onboarding experience. Use online surveys, feedback forms, or customer reviews to gain insights and make necessary adjustments to improve the process.

Final thoughts

We covered the nine most common complaints and steps you should follow to minimize them. The most important fact you should always remember is that complaints are an inevitable nuisance and an exceptional learning opportunity. If you focus on the second characteristic, your job will be easier, and your company will grow constantly.

Final advice:

At least 4 times a year, perform competitive analysis. Gather big data from competitors’ poor reviews. Use those golden nuggets to outrank them. Learning from others’ mistakes is the cheapest way to perfection.

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