TRADE LEADER’S GUIDE: Are Customer Complaints a Good Thing and How Much Does an Underrated Complaint Cost - Part 3


In Part 1 of this series, we told you what the most common problems are in dealing with human-related complaints.

In Part 2, we looked at issues related to technical systems, process management, and the delegation of rights and responsibilities, in short, issues related to the internal organization.

Now, as a conclusion to the topic of good practices in dealing with complaints in trade, we offer you 6 golden rules for working with dissatisfied customers, which we believe are not difficult to follow, and if you do not have the resources to apply them adequately in practice and find them for a great challenge, the ADR Center  of NAIS is here to cooperate with you and help through the ODR platform of the EU.

  1. Strive to get as many complaints as possible from dissatisfied customers. Give the opportunity to raise a problem through the maximum number of channels that you are able to adequately serve - phone, chat, email, online system. This gives you information to correct persistent errors in internal work processes or defects in products. It is better to mark them properly and try to remove them permanently. This will increase your customer satisfaction and retention.

In case you are a trader in EU and you sell to Bulgarian customers, and you do not have your own channels for accepting complaints from them, or you have concerns that most of your customers do not complain, but simply stop buying from you and turn to the competition because they do not believe you will solve their problem, you can refer them to NAIS ADR Center as an independent body. In the ODR platform of EU there is a possibility for submission of an electronic complaint and subsequent negotiations online. They are carried out in the form of a chat with the participation of a mediator, at any time and in any place convenient for the parties. The system sends automatic notifications for deadlines, new events in it, so you can easily manage the process and control the time. Associated NAIS members are also entitled to statistics to help them analyze common mistakes in their work that lead to complaints.

  1. There is no insignificant problem for the client. It may seem small and negligible to you, however it may be big for him. Take seriously any signal given in any of your communication channels. Minimize transfers from person to person, department to department, and time spent working on it.

If you took the decision  to use the online platform of EU you need to nominate a representative of your business who registers in the system and participates in resolving disputes with clients. This person must be authorized to negotiate complaints, make decisions and handle compensation budgets. He/She must be able to judge and work flexibly, according to the urgency and complexity of the case. In the platform he/she will be able to participate in the chat at time and place by his/her choice.

  1. Show empathy for the client. This does not mean that you agree with him/her or admit that he/she is right, but that you understand and respect their emotion. The mediators at the NAIS ADR Center are trained in the best school that conducts certification trainings in mediation in Bulgaria- Professional Association of Mediators in Bulgaria- PAMB. About a third of this type of experts in our country have been trained in it. In a special module, for techniques of communication, understanding and working with emotions, they learn to accept them as something normal in the process. Their professional duty is to remain impartial and not to take part in the dispute, not to give legal advice, not to offer solutions, but to give the parties the initiative to generate them themselves. They do not judge, do not demand, do not insist, do not neglect, give equal opportunities to the parties to speak, to propose, keep their secret and assist them in the process.
  2. Remember that we all make mistakes. If your client points out an obvious one, don't hesitate to apologize. It costs nothing and does not damage the image, but on the contrary strengthens it. You can even tell him/her that this is not the standard way the company works, but a mistake that you apologize for on behalf of a colleague, for a misunderstanding, for a misguiding. If a dispute is resolved through mediation at the NAIS ADR Center, our mediators will tell you if the client expects an apology, because sometimes this is the natural end of the dispute and no other efforts and compensation are needed.
  3. Seek a solution to the dispute. Do not try to get rid of the client and ignore finding a solution. This can only aggravate the dispute, aggravate the complainant’s emotional status and encourage him/her to take more serious measures, which would lead to bigger costs for the company, public deterioration of its image and, in some cases, fines. The most popular development of a complaint in which no solution has been found is its submission to the CPC, from where inspections follow, as well as fines.

A complaint filed with authorities and institutions may result in fines and penalties but does not resolve the dispute between the parties. It does not keep the client and creates additional costs for the company to hire experts, work on inspection staff, write answers, rebuttals and more. In addition, a retained old customer costs less than a new one won, as we have already clarified in the second part of the publication.

  1. Don't waste time solving the client's problem. Excessive procrastination, transferring to other employees and departments or empty argument, leads to exacerbation of the problem, deterioration of the emotional status of the already dissatisfied customer, damages the company's image, if he/she starts commenting in public, leads to sending the complaint to other bodies and institutions. If the complaint procedure of the associate members of NAIS states that in case of escalation of complaints, delays and other such situations, they can turn to NAIS for mediation, this will prevent such an unfavorable development of the complaint.

On the contrary, a client who has the right to complain and a quick solution to his/her problem has been found, in which he/she also participates, remains a satisfied and loyal ambassador of the company's good practices.

Follow the next publications from this series, dedicated to the best practices in dealing with complaints, from the section "Trade Leaders' Guide" on the NEWS page of, as well as in the profiles of NAIS on LinkedIn and Facebook. In the next publication we will look at the problems related to technical systems, process management and the delegation of rights and responsibilities, or in short, problems related to the internal organization.

Resources used:

KPMG 2019- Why customer resolution really matters A guide to successful customer complaints management

Published on 09.04.2021 Back to news