What to do when customers complain…

A few posts ago, I wrote an article similar to this one.  I think this topic is so important, that I’m saying something about it again.angry customer2

Businesses spend so much of their money acquiring customers, yet can lose them over one complaint.

All of us, at some point in our careers will have a few customers who complain.   It’s the way we deal with these dissatisfied, even angry, customers that makes the difference.  In my book, “How to Get Customers To Call, Buy and Beg for More”, I mention that one dissatisfied customer, through word-of-mouth, could cause 100 or more customers to stop doing business with you.

There are times that the customer is justified in their complaints, and other times they are not.  You all know that the handling of a dissatisfied customer can have a far-reaching impact on that customer.

I remember reading an article in the American Management Association magazine that the average satisfied customer tells three people about their experience, but the average dissatisfied customer will tell up to eleven other people.  Now with Twitter and other social media, that number can be in the thousands.

The first thing I would do when a customer complains is to make a positive reassuring statement to the customer.  I might say, “I want you to know that I will get something done about your problem.”

Then I’d acknowledge that the person is upset by saying, “I can see that you are very upset with us, and I am sorry you have a problem, but I’m very glad that you called it to my attention.

I’d then ask them, “What would make you Happy in settling this problem?”  Then I’d settle with them. I’d say that I was truly sorry that they encountered this problem, that I was going to do exactly what they requested, and that I wanted to keep them as a valued customer.

The reason I’m writing this is because a company I was doing business with just lost me as a customer; they didn’t resolve a problem to my satisfaction.  They have lost a lot of future money with me.  I don’t want you to lose business that way.  Handle complaints like they are the most valuable thing at hand…because generally they are.

 I won’t badmouth this company to other people I know, but I sure won’t be doing business with them anymore.  

Let me know what you think.

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4 Responses to “What to do when customers complain…”

  1. Remy says:

    Ah well, here’s a topic on which I completely disagree with you Ken. There are customers that you just have to FIRE and tell’em to take their business elswhere. They’re such a pain in the biiipp that, even though you did everything right with the delivery of the product or service, they will always have a reason to complain. They are just frustrated people that cannot be satisfied. I am not sacrificing my integrity for the sake of money. If the complaint is justified, I’ll do whatever it takes to rectify my mistake and more. If it’s not justified, I just politely invite them to go see elswhere.


    Ken Reply:

    Remy, you are absolutely correct. My message wasn’t designed to get you to keep all of your customers. But as you said, ” If the complaint is justified, you do whatever it takes to rectify the problem.” In Business there are certain individuals nobody can satisfy. You have to be diplomatic in asking them to go elsewhere with their business as a dissatisfied customer can tell 10 people about their bad experience, who can tell 100 more, etc, etc. So be very diplomatic when you ask them to take their business elsewhere.


  2. Tony says:

    The best way to fire a customer is to of course do your very best to serve them better than your competitors and to ensure them that you are doing your absolute best to fulfil their needs. When it looks like the customer will never become satisfied, you can tell him or her at that point that you are sorry for the experience and perhaps you should try another firm, but that in the future, you will still be here to help them. Chances are that this type of customer (never satisfied) will have a worst experience. This will produce frustration for them and if they come back you can then dictate your terms (i.e. cash up front, higher prices, etc…)giving you the upper hand


    Ken Reply:

    Hi Tony, WOW. Well articulated. When I had my other companies, I always strove to handle complaints immediately. I also found that there were some customers I just couldn’t satisfy. I handled them exactly the way you mention, and also left the door open for them to come back. My experience showed me that they inevitably did return and were very satisfied. The one thing I did differently that a lot of other business individuals don’t do, is that I still communicated with those that left by sending off articles I felt would be of interest to them with a note that I missed them as a customer. It worked like a charm. I hope all of you reading this would try to implement something like this. Thanks for your comments Tony.


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