How your salespeople handle it when customers complain will determine whether those customers remain loyal or switch to competitors. Here are 5 ways your salespeople can take the sting out of complaints and keep customers buying:

Listen to the entire complaint before you say anything. For some customers, being given the opportunity to voice the complaint is the first step to a satisfactory solution. Even if you know the resolution immediately, let the customer finish before you say anything. The more you allow customers to complain, the more you will learn what is really bothering them.

Stay out of an argument. Many complaints are based on misinformation or problems created by the customer. Pointing out customer mistakes early in the process is not going to lead to a quick solution.

Avoid making excuses. If the complaint is valid, admit it, without trying to shift the blame. To the customer, you are the company, so pointing the finger at Shipping, Billing, etc., isn’t going to do anything — except maybe cost you a customer. It’s better to forget the alibis and assure the customer that you’ll take steps to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

Set a timeline for a solution. The longer complaints remain unresolved, the more serious they become. Investigate immediately and get all the facts before you talk with the customer again. Minor complaints can develop into serious problems if they’re ignored.

Provide an explanation. No matter how obvious the solution is, remember that customers expect an explanation. They look for a report of the facts and circumstances, as well as proposed solutions.