Sales 101: How to handle customer complaints like a pro

Sales 101: How to handle customer complaints like a pro

sales 101

Oh boy!

Your worst nightmare has just come true.

You’ve just started your career as a sales rep and a month later you’re left to deal with a disgruntled customer to your own devices.  Yikes!

Have you ever been a situation like this? Well, if you have or are anticipating it, I’ve compiled a list of how -to’s that will help you get out of the rut, with your dignity and job intact.

So, here. we. go.


Alright so, first things first, you can’t get to the solution if you don’t know the problem, right?

Listening is your knight in shining armor in this case. Listen and listen right, listen well. But don’t just sit there. Let the customer address all of his/her issues. Respond using neutral phrases such as ‘I understand’ or ‘hmm, okay’ you get the gist.

While you’re at it, be on a lookout for a pause. This is your chance to console them by giving them what they want to hear. If you don’t have the answers, don’t worry, connect them to your supervisor and you’re good.

Whatever you do – do not interrupt, unless you’ve got a death wish.

Don’t be a nervous wreck

No matter where you’re at, in your sales or client servicing career, it is natural to get a little anxious when such a situation arises. But the trick is to not let it get the best of you.

I have a trick that I use when I’m on calls or when I’m asked to talk to a large audience. I hold a pen in one of my hands as if to channel all my nervousness to it so that I can be far relaxed when conversing.

You might prefer a paperclip or an eraser, whatever floats your boat. 9 out of 10 times, it will work.

But the point here is that staying calm helps you get a lot more done and help you think on your feet than nervousness ever will.

Don’t take it personally

When someone comes at you aggressively, your mind might push you to take it personally.


Well, at least not in this scenario. Put yourself in their shoes. When you address your concerns to a customer service executive, do you mean to take a hit at them personally? Of course not.

It works the same way another way around too, no matter how abusive the customer is on the other end.

You understand this, you’ll be better equipped to understand where the customer is coming from and offer them a solution to their concerns, quicker.

Make use of the formalities

You need to have your politeness at the ready when a customer comes to you aggressively with a compliant.

Your ‘Thank you’ or ‘I apologize ma’am/sir’ would come in handy now more than ever. But it doesn’t just stop here. Your customers aren’t idiots. Authenticity shows through the phone.

So, if you don’t mean what you say, your customer is going to catch wind of it and hold it against you (worst case scenario) and we don’t want that.

Even if you are on the right and don’t think he/she deserves your kindness, just put it out there and mean it.

Thank the customer for keeping you informed on their situation or apologize to them without making any excuses as to why you’re right and that it’s all their fault.



Be swift

The faster you respond the less likely it is for the situation to escalate.

According to industrial sources, almost more than half of the total people in the survey find slow responses to be cumbersome (surprise, surprise).

In addition, customers will act positively to your quick responses to their problem, because it promotes a sense of accountability in their minds. If you’re lucky, they might also simmer down and take it easy.

Be Human

Scripts are great, but not when the situation demands a little improv.

The customer is looking for a human response at other ends of the line. You might argue about the success of chatbots. But if chatbots are that great, then why is there still a need for customer care personnel? Hmm? Anyone? Anyone?

Because people don’t want to be talking to robots.

That’s why!

But to do that, you need to know what you can or cannot do and for that, you’d need to consult a supervisor who will have a much better idea on how to go about this situation.

You know what they say, if you want to break the rules, you need to know the rules first.

Offer an alternative or a solution

Now, not every complaint that you come across as a straight, clear cut solution and there isn’t one shoe that fits all scenario here either.

So, if you can’t offer them that, offer the next best thing. A solution that seems plausible but gives or take a few changes.

What you can’t do is offer an Apple for an Orange and expect them to be happy. No, offer a Tangerine instead.

When in doubt, ask them what they expect would be a fruitful solution to their problems. If you’ve got it, then great. If not seek out the best there is and follow the example mentioned above.

Follow up

Last but not least, when all is said and done, don’t forget to check in on them to see if your solution worked just fine.

This will ensure a better relationship between your company and them, a better reputation and possibly a good review on Google.

On a serious note though, by following up, a sense of ‘we care’ attitude would be instilled in your customers and in the future, they might just end up being a major client that ensures brand visibility through word-of-mouth.  You never know.

In the sales world, problems are bound to happen. But that doesn’t mean that you have to run away with you hands above your head.

Solutions to run amok in this world. So, grab that phone and get talking.

But hold on a second! If you aren’t a sales representative, but are thinking of hiring one, but don’t have the budget for it. Fret not, pal.

I’ve got just the thing for you.

We’ve got some great professional talkers who will; slay customer complaints blindfolded (metaphorically speaking of course) so why don’t you shoot us an email, call us or reach out to us in whatever way suits you the best to get our virtual assistants to help you. Until that happens, may the force be with you.