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Library  »  Categories  »  Elite Training  »  Welcome Complaints!

Welcome complaints!


No matter how successful your business is, or how comprehensive your services are, you will always have scope for improvement.  One of the best tools for generating positive and constructive change to any organisation is a complaining customer.  You cannot avoid the inevitable; rather, you should accept them, welcome them even… and then do something positive about their complaints!


If you can remedy a reasonable complaint and deliver an outcome which surpasses the customer’s expectations you then have the potential for a life-long relationship.  However, if you fail to acknowledge the complaint, think how much value you have potentially lost over the lifetime of that customer – not to mention the negative impressions that customer will spread about your apparent disregard and inattention.


Online forums and review sites

You should consider the growing nature of the ‘protective collective’ of consumers who contribute to various online forums and the growing popularity of online review sites.  Negative customer experiences could become quite damaging to your business.  Online professional communities are growing as well, and we can expect to see businesses protecting their positive ratings like ebay sellers.


Proactive, not reactive

Obviously, you shouldn’t just wait around for something to go wrong.  Your job is to find proactive ways to encourage your customers to provide you with feedback, whether it’s praise for a job well done or even a complaint.  Even if they complain, you are still getting feedback that is extremely valuable and may even be relevant for other customers too.


Remain objective

You will need to concentrate on being as objective and open-minded with each complaint as you can be; try not to see complaints as a personal attack or accusation.  You’ll need to be thinking clearly and objectively anyways to find the best and most appropriate solution for everyone involved.


Don’t just plaster over it

Try to remember that this is an opportunity to address an aspect of your business which might give rise to future conflict or tension, so finding a good, long-term and lasting solution should be your priority.  A quick fix should not be the end of the matter; however, a short-term solution may be needed to resolve the most immediate concerns.  Be sure to follow this up with a more complete solution when time allows.

Empower them rather than banish them

A disappointed customer who is given a clear and responsive channel through which to funnel their complaints will feel empowered and more open to a reasonable resolution.  No one wants to feel as though their legitimate concerns or complaints will fall on deaf and disinterested ears.  This formalised complaints process gives you the opportunity to resolve the issue in a positive way and regain the faith and trust of a valued customer.


Opportunity versus nuisance

Yet most companies still react negatively to complaints and see them as a personal attack or unwarranted criticism.  Complaints seem to be regarded more as a nuisance rather than as an opportunity to demonstrate the company’s approach to customer service.  Many companies will have you believe they value their customers and dedicate them selves to customer care and then fail entirely when they have the chance to put these words to action.


Dealing with complaints

  • Encourage honesty and open discussion; try to keep things as clear and transparent as possible.  Facts like dates, times, charges, names, contact numbers etc should be noted and recorded.  Document as much as possible and get things in writing, whether in email or by formal letter.  It becomes easier to track the process and you also have the facts to hand for reference.
  • Provide a real person for customers to contact; don’t force them to jump through automated hoops or climb through procedural obstacles.  If you failed to provide an adequate service or product, don’t punish your valued customer further by making it harder for them to engage you in a dialogue.  You should want to find a fast and mutually beneficial resolution to the complaint, to do this you should make yourself accessible and streamline the process.
  • You may even want to establish a more proactive and regular feedback retrieval process to perhaps prevent serious complaints from arising.    A regular and formalised process could identify certain issues or concerns before they develop into an actual complaint, and again it demonstrates a willingness on your part to respond positively to constructive feedback.
  • If a customer has brought a legitimate complaint to you seeking resolution, you have an opportunity to turn the situation to your advantage.  You already know what their issue is and they have expressed a desire for you to fix it, rather than simply deciding that they can’t be asked and walking away from the relationship outright.  Here’s your chance to woo them back and demonstrate to them the importance you place on your continued relationship.
  • Complaining customers can be noisy.  However, a customer who has had their complaint dealt with in a professional and expeditious way to their satisfaction can be just as noisy in a positive way.  You may have earned their respect and their renewed loyalty and given them cause to praise you for your excellent service.  You may have created a very vocal advocate for your business.


Remember that it costs several more times as much to win new customers as what it does to keep existing customers.  Keeping them may be far more cost effective, and professionally rewarding, than trying to ignore them.