All things resolution: providing your customers with the best path forward 

9 min read
April 12, 2023

We are called Resolver because we want to help people obtain satisfying results for challenging issues. We do this by providing a simple and clear process to raise and respond to complaints, one that makes it easier for customers and companies alike to keep track of correspondence. 

Our service can help facilitate contact between companies and their customers. But the way that your business approaches customer service is entirely up to you. 

In our series on complaints and well-being we have explored how any resolution is an act of collaboration: something that a business has to be willing to offer and the customer has to be willing to accept. 

Approaching resolution from this perspective helps to reframe the outcomes of complaints as cooperative and collaborative. But it also means that companies and consumers must both take more responsibility for their judgments, mindsets, and emotions when it comes to complaints.  

In this article, we aim to help you better understand how to enhance the likelihood of a mutually satisfying end to a complaint. 

Our guide to the different kinds of resolution you can offer – from apologising to asking for a second chance – will consider how they help your customer move forward and the situations in which they are most appropriate.

We will also flag up what each kind of resolution asks of you, as a company, if you really want to win your customers back by setting them on a positive path forward. 

What are the different kinds of resolution and when are they most appropriate 

Just as there are a huge variety of problems that can occur with a product or service, there are many different kinds of solutions to them. Most resolutions will be very specific to the complaint. But in general, we think there are roughly four main types of resolution. All of these reflect different kinds of negative experiences and their impacts on the customer’s time, money, effort, and emotion. 

As a business, it is important to consider how the resolution you offer fits with the kind of experience your customer has had – how it will be able to remedy their negative feelings, even if you cannot undo what has happened. 

An apology

Until time travel becomes possible, there will always be things that cannot be undone or prevented. Yet an apology still has the power to put things right. 

An apology is an admission that something has gone wrong and that the person you are apologising to suffered as a result. This can transform how someone feels in the present, allowing them to move away from a past situation into the future with their trust and confidence restored.

In this day and age, apologies can be hard to come by. They are often viewed as lacking in substance or as empty words. You might even assume that an upset customer is only ever seeking some kind of financial compensation, and that an apology has no value to them. 

We believe that apologies are powerful and often exactly what is needed. While vastly underestimated, apologies have enormous potential to reconcile relationships, initiate the restoration of trust, and reweave the social fabric. 

However, the power of apologies to put things right is something that some individuals or companies can be resistant to. Research into the power of apologies has shown that the unwillingness of individuals or organisations to apologise is because this involves giving up their power: when you apologise you are giving up your own power by asking someone to forgive you. 

Just as a customer must be willing to accept a resolution and let go of their past experience, your company has to be willing to offer them a path forward. Only a straightforward and sincere acknowledgment that something has gone wrong can make the customer feel heard and seen and prepared to move on cooperatively. 

Without truly giving up your power, and putting the customer in the position of being able to forgive, neither party will be able to find a solution. Rather than making excuses, ensure that you fully accept responsibility by offering them the apology that they deserve and that will allow you to move forward collaboratively. 

Recuperating a loss 

In many instances, a customer may be seeking a refund, return, or cancellation. These all fall into the category of resolutions that attempt to ‘cancel out’ the bad experience by recuperating a financial loss. 

It may feel like a customer is taking advantage of a simple error or mistake for their own financial gain. However, it is important to acknowledge the time and energy that went into raising and pursuing the complaint. Whether it’s reporting a negative experience or returning a faulty item, by the time you hear from the customer they will have already taken time out of their day and put effort into getting in touch to explain what happened. 

While the refund or exchange may cost you, the time and energy that your customer has spent trying to give you this feedback cannot be returned or remunerated. 

If this is the kind of resolution your customer is expecting to receive, remind yourself of how valuable their feedback is. While you cannot undo the bad experience you can reward people for reporting the issue by treating them fairly, given that the product or service they have come to you for wasn’t what it should have been.  

Asking for a second chance

In any sector, from hospitality to online shopping, things can go wrong. When you can’t undo a bad experience but are confident that it was a one-off, you may wish to ask for a second chance to show your disappointed customer that you are able to provide the product, service, or experience they were originally expecting. 

This may come in the form of an exchange or replacement item. Or, in the case of a bad experience, a voucher or discount on products and services in the future. 

Whether it’s a voucher for another meal or a credit note for the next time they shop with you, this may seem like the fairest solution. However, the customer still has to accept the inconvenience or trouble they’ve already had and not let this cloud their future experience. As with an apology, you are asking them to forgive you and be open to better interactions in the future.

As a business, it is reasonable to expect customers to be understanding that errors or one-off bad experiences can happen. This kind of resolution provides them with a chance to rebuild trust or confidence in your company. However, their ability to give you a second chance will be impacted if this is not the first time this has happened. If this is their third time complaining about the same issue, it may be that they have had enough and, understandably, are unable to accept this form of resolution. 


Some things cannot be fully made up or replaced, and your customer may not be willing to offer you a second chance. In these instances, or where a bad experience occurred due to false advertising or negligence, you may be obliged to pay your customer compensation. 

Compensation should be calculated to take into account financial loss, but also lost time, inconvenience, and harmful emotional effects like stress. It is important to remember that, to the customer, this still may not cover the full amount they originally spent, nor can it give them back the time, money, or emotional effort expended. 

Just like an apology, offering financial compensation is an acknowledgment that something went seriously wrong and that the customer was harmed in the process. When you offer compensation, you are fully admitting that the customer was negatively affected and that it was through no fault of their own. So even if a customer feels that the compensation amount does not make up for what they went through, you should emphasise the kind of validation it provides them with. 

Laws and regulations exist to ensure that consumers are financially remunerated when they are affected by bad business practices. These are often calculated and enforced by regulatory bodies and ombudsmen. Anytime a consumer has to seek help from a regulatory body, your company may incur a charge. 

So rather than fighting to the bitter end, if you can see that a customer has grounds to request compensation it is best to offer it as quickly as possible. You will be saving yourself a lot of time and money by doing this quickly. It will also make you look better, and potentially ensure that this bad experience does not harm your business’s reputation.

Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous Claims Management Companies (CMCs) that exist to make money from people attempting to reclaim the compensation they are legally entitled to. Our free complaint service and rights guides exist to help consumers avoid using such companies. As a business you can help fight these parasitic and predatory CMCs by making it easy for your customers to communicate with you and being straightforward when explaining why you are offering financial compensation or not.  

The key to avoiding resentment 

Ultimately it is up to you, the business owner, to decide what resolution is most appropriate. However, with all customer complaints, you should avoid being defensive: just because something went wrong for one customer, this doesn’t mean that you have failed.  

It can be easy to see a complaint as criticism or someone causing you problems. However, you should resist creating more feelings of resentment or frustration during the complaints process. Reframing complaints as valuable feedback that lets you know where problems have occurred, and how you can do better next time, will help you maintain good business practices even when things go wrong. 

The best resolution to a complaint is a solution that helps a customer feel heard, seen, and able to move forward positively. Ensure that you try to help your customers find satisfying resolutions, rather than just trying to get rid of them. While you may not be able to fulfill the customer’s initial expectations, you can still treat them fairly.

When running a business it can be easy to minimise the bad experience of a few customers. However, their bad experience is important to them – and will be what they tell people about. Your main goal may be to make a profit and protect your reputation with a broader customer base, but you shouldn’t underestimate how one good instance of customer service can contribute to your brand reputation.

We believe that a well-resolved complaint can reflect incredibly well on a business. By offering an appropriate resolution, and a great experience of customer care, a complaint can still result in repeat customers, positive feedback, and recommendations. 

For more tips on Customer Care and help with your business’s online presence, why not check out Resolver Pro – Four brand new business packages created by the minds at Resolver – giving you access to insights and data tools, such as reviews, CMS and marketing. 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other topics you’d like us to cover, we’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with us via

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