“Oh! I am sorry,” says the waiter. You wait expectantly for a redress to the complaint, only to hear the repetition of ‘Oh! I am sorry’. Is that all the service provider can say and do? You may be wondering what the complaint was about, so here goes. You have checked into a hotel situated in the coastal area of the country. After a hectic day, you retire to your room and order for room service. You decide to order a seafood dish since the hotel is on the coast.

Twenty minutes later, there is a knock at your door and you expectantly welcome the room service. As soon as you lift the cover off the dish, there is a distinct smell of rancid food. You cannot eat this food and suffer the consequences of food poisoning. You call room service again and complain about the order they have just sent to your room. The same waiter appears and reaches for the dish as you look expectantly at her; she looks back at you with a blank look. It appears she has no knowledge of your complaint so you repeat your complaint and out comes ‘Oh! I am sorry.’ Is that all, is she going to leave the guest hungry and with no alternative suggestions?

Is I am sorry the only thing to say when a service provider ‘goofs’. It is a good initial attempt; however, it must not end there, service providers should train to handle customer complaints satisfactorily.

Delay in responding

As a service provider, you must respond quickly and be in control. This service provider should have addressed the issue as soon as they got to the room instead of waiting for the customer to repeat the complaint. Let the customer see and know that you want to address the complaint quickly.

Inattentive Listening

The customer will definitely be upset so listen calmly as they vent their frustrations, do not interrupt. As soon as they finish with the complaint, offer a sincere apology. If you know their name, use it. It will be a wise decision to find out the customer’s name especially when you realize that they are unhappy with your service. Apologize for the inconvenience or mistake. The customer needs to feel that they have been heard, so do not interrupt with any lame excuses.

Not involving them in the solution

The service provider needs to involve the complaining customer in addressing and correcting the situation. The service provider in the room service situation should have offered alternatives such as suggesting other dishes and offering a complementary drink as the customer waits. Agree on a solution with a timeframe. Give the complaining customer updates on the progress of the solution. Ask them how they would want the situation resolved. It would be best to involve them because your best intention will still fail to please the customer if it does not satisfy them. You would be surprised that their solution may be simpler and less costly than you would think.

Not following up

When a solution is found, the service provider needs to follow up to see if the action taken is satisfactory to the customer. Following up on the solution is important especially if you have to enlist the help of others in correcting the situation. If the customer is satisfied, it will serve as a guideline to similar situations and you can use this particular occurrence to evaluate the effectiveness of your response to the complaint.

Not thanking them

Customers who want to continue doing business with you are the ones who will complain to you. Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. You cannot resolve something you do not know about.

 “Those who enter to buy, support me. Those who come to flatter, please me. Those who complain, teach me how I may please others so that more will come. Only those who hurt me are displeased but do not complain. They refuse me permission to correct my errors and improve my service”-Marshall Field (Owner of an upscale department store that was acquired by Macy’s).

Service providers need to acknowledge and thank complaining customers because of alarming facts such as 89% of consumers start doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. A research has also discovered that on average a complaining customer will tell ten people about their bad experience, these people will each tell a further five people, this means that a total of fifty people will have heard about the poor service.


To be in business means resolving customer complaints promptly and in the best way possible, prepare for the fire (complaint). Dealing with it professionally will ensure that you avoid a conflagration. Honestly, acknowledge the problem. A Satisfied customer will give you another chance when they realize that you value their custom and business enough to choose to address their complaints to their satisfaction.

Sandy Kojo-Andah

Skills Sharing Consult Ltd

‘the soft skills people’



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here