Part of being in the business world is knowing how to deal with customer complaints. Complaint management plays a huge role in customers’ trust in one’s brand. When customers receive outstanding customer service, they develop strong loyalty and rapport with your brand – thus giving positive effects to your business as well.

This article presents a series of cases where various brands exhibit their ways of dealing with complaints. Brands that know how to handle complaints usually earn an outstanding and admirable reputation.

Brands with Commendable Complaint Handling

  • Brand: McDonald’s

Challenge: A petition on Sum of Us talks about how McDonald’s uses millions of plastic straws every day. Many plastics that are thrown away end up polluting our oceans. The campaign encouraged its readers to get the company to “ditch its dirty habit” of using plastic straws. As of this writing, the campaign has 498,272 signatures.

Solution: On March 28, 2018, McDonald’s announced that it was ditching plastic straws from its UK restaurants. On July 20, 2018, the campaign posted an update that McDonald’s was moving away from plastic straws in Australia, the UK, and Ireland with testing of alternatives in Belgium, US, France, Sweden, and Norway.

“You asked, we listened. Paper straws will be rolling out to all UK restaurants from this September!” McDonald’s UK tweeted in June 2018.

Result: Despite the own pros and cons of paper straws, McDonald’s act of replacing their plastic straws for paper straws has gotten them praises from many people.

  • Brand: Tesla

Challenge: In August 2017, Twitter user Paul Franks tagged Tesla founder Elon Musk and said, “can you guys program the car once in park to move back the seat and raise the steering wheel? Steering wheel is wearing.”

Solution: In response to Paul Franks’s tweet, Elon Musk replied just moments later: “Good point. We will add that to all cars in one of the upcoming software releases.”

Result: Elon Musk has once again proven his efficiency as a CEO as he exhibited a remarkable customer complaint handling procedure. Elon Musk actually listens and responds. An article by Inc. described what sets Tesla apart from the rest: “What’s missing from this exchange is what we see in many companies: making excuses, shifting blame or responsibility to another department, or some other form of stalling that usually results in the death of good ideas.”

The way Elon Musk acted on the situation has given consumers more reason to say that Tesla is truly beyond its competitors.

  • Brand: HSBC

Challenge: HSBC used to have frustrating complaint management. According to Writing-Skills, “there were few controls in place and response letters tended to be long and indirect.” The bank wanted a quicker way to deal with problems.

John Baker, Manager of Customer Letters and Terms and Conditions, said they wanted to “know that we’ll be consistent in giving a good-quality response, that people will own the problem and that the customer will know what to do as a result of getting the letter.”

Solution: Emphasis, the UK’s leading business-writing training company, designed a course that examined the letter-writing process. It assessed a formula for an effective structure and let participants work on real HSBC letters. This allowed them to practice on “live” complaints.

The training company also developed a glossary so teams could avoid using unnecessary jargon.

Result: HSBC in the UK and other countries now has letter-writing standards following the training from Emphasis. The standards encourage clarity, “thank you” and “sorry” where appropriate, and positive and concise writing.

According to John Baker, the response from customers has been positive. “We’re seeing greater concentration in answering questions, so there is less comeback from customers who say that we can’t handle the complaint,” he said.

  • Brand: Dell

Challenge: Dell once suffered major criticism when a customer was dissatisfied with one of their products. The customer wrote about how he “paid a fortune for the four-year, in-home service,” but he was having all kinds of trouble with the hardware. He added that if the company says they will send someone over, the person wouldn’t have the parts.

Solution: Jan Uhrich, former Vice President of Global Services at Dell, said they believe that through customer feedback, they are “able to grow and evolve our solutions for increased efficiency and ever-better customer satisfaction.”

Dell learned from the situation and started to collect customer feedback through IdeaStorm. The website is just for Dell users to leave reviews and complaints. 

Result: As Dell knows the importance of customer feedback, they would get the reviews that receive the most comments and votes on IdeaStorm. They would then prioritize these and take them more seriously. This has likely lessened fumed complaints like those of the mentioned customer.

  • Brand: Adidas

Challenge: Adidas observed a trend of consumers being significantly concerned about the planet. According to a Brandwatch analysis, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the effects of plastic waste.

Solution: This kind of awareness from consumers prompted Adidas to create running shoes made from ocean waste without compromising its quality.

Result: The company’s bold move of creating a new product based on consumers’ concerns has caught the attention of many. Apart from earning a positive reputation, the company also sold over a million pairs in 2017.

Regardless of their industry, brands know how customer satisfaction can do wonders not only for their business but also for the brand reputation itself. The proper way of dealing with customer complaints has helped establish a rapport between the brand and its customers.


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