Assuming you have heeded Tip #24 and fired all your bad customers, a customer complaint needs to be dealt with swiftly, with as little drama as possible. The time for looking for blame and how something bad happened comes later. Your first job is to make your customers whole and happy.
Only after that is completed should you investigate the system failure that may have produced the less than perfect customer experience. Mistakes happen, and no system perfectly works every time.
There is no better illustration of how not to treat your customer than the ever-growing trend of larger companies using call centers to field customer complaints. I recently had an experience with an online service that left me so frustrated I canceled the service and went to a competitor. The problem should have been easily fixed, as it was just an issue with my password. They had three levels of “triage” before they could direct me to the password expert. Unfortunately, they could not connect me because of the call volume. After several minutes of waiting to be directed to the right person, they ended up giving me the number and telling me to call back during less busy hours. Really?? Being smaller and more versatile gives you the advantage over your larger, more bureaucratic competitors.