From Seth Godin’s Blog
The complaining customer does not want refund, He wants a connection, an apology and some understanding. He wants to know why you made him feel stupid or ripped off or disrespected, and why it’s not going to happen again.
If you have a department that sends out form letters and refund coupons, what you’ve done is built the ability, at scale, to get rid of people who are giving you a second chance.
When the refund for the broken M&M’s or the artificially flavored nuts that should have been delicious, or the $20 inconvenience fee in exchange for the torture you put a frequent flyer through arrives, you’ve basically sent a form letter that says, “goodbye.”
Which is your choice, of course, but if you think that this expression of goodwill is going to be seen as goodwill, you’re wrong.
Try candor or inviting them to an online focus group. Perhaps try being human. Try giving them a chance to be a voice of the concerned, energetic customer, a voice that needs to be heard by people who actually make decisions.
My 2 cents – To complain takes energy and an expectation that the effort to complain will be responded to, respond like a human and you will keep the customer (unless they are completely unreasonable in which case you did not want that customer!)