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Customer Complaints or It's Not Just the Whine and Please Anymore

Mar 12, 2008
If you sell a product or service you will get complaints.

Resolution is the word used when we describe the process of successfully handling those complaints. The complaint process you set up determines how successfully your company resolves complaints.

The first step is to develop an attitude that complaints are problems that often are a symptom of some type of flaw or defect. Because it can be very subjective, complaint resolution is not always a matter of right or wrong.

Some complaints are groundless but others can reveal internal problems that may be costing your company.

Time is a key in dealing with any complaint. In general, complaints that are dealt with rapidly tend to get resolved rapidly. A rapidly resolved complaint is a cheaper complaint.

Quick responses can often avoid confrontation and confrontations are seldom good for business.

First, listen to the complainer's side of the story. Put special emphasis on how they feel. This can provide another perspective on your business. Even though it may be difficult, try to show empathy even if you do not admit guilt.

Ask them what you can do to make them happy. Often their solution is the cheapest and it might give you insight on how to fix a business defect. Also they really can't complain if you follow their suggestion.

Who can complain when you give them what they want?

Determine how the problem happened and how it can be prevented. Don't jump to conclusions before you have all the facts.

Don't assume the customer is crazy or wrong just because they complain; keep an open mind to the remote possibility that by golly it just might be your fault.

Don't take it personally...look at the issues objectively and control your emotions. This can be difficult if someone is questioning your integrity and calling your mother nasty names.

The fact is customers can be jerks. Some appear to get their jollies by complaining and giving you a hard time. Whatever you do or say is not enough. They hold their noses as if they can't stand the smell, even though they are smelling their own feet.

You know the kind; they want to get into an argument with you about why the manufacturer doesn't make just what they want.

It's not as if these jerks have anything else in their depraved, petty lives they could be doing other than pestering you.

Why in the world is this nitwit arguing with you about the engineering of a product and all you do is carry it? Get a life, pea brain.

You can't control the fact that some people are jerks. All you can do is control how you react to jerks. If you get upset and angry then you lose. The jerk has won.

Words might also be hurtful but the reaction to them can be controlled. Take it with a grain of salt and for your sanity maybe deflect it with some humor.

"Why sir, let me see if I can get their engineering department on the phone right now to address your concerns though I think they are all asleep in China right now." Nitwits.

Laugh it off and don't get jaded. Don't let the jerk determine how you will react to the next customer. That is what we see in today's marketplace; too many distressed and depressed employees.

But most people are OK; they just want to be treated fairly whereas the jerk wants to be treated special. How about a 75% surcharge on all parts and labor for the 'jerk factor.'

We all get behind these jerks in the check out line. They want to argue with the poor clerk over something the clerk has no control. But fortunately most of us aren't that way because if we were no one would ever make it out of the store.

There also comes a point in every business' development when they have to simply say "we chose to not do business with you because we always lose money whenever we deal with you. Besides, you are a big jerk and a pain in the posterior. Have a nice day."

Is there a law against it?

This one simple tactic can do more to reduce headaches and improve the bottom line than any complaint resolution process. Maybe it's time you just stood up and fired all jerk customers.

Handling that complaint professionally can make your business run more smoothly and keep your hard earned customers...if you get really skilled at dealing with complaints you might even bring in some new business.

Just make sure to stay close to the chase and take the pulse of your customers regularly. After all, most customers don't complain, they just go somewhere else.
About the Author
Jack Deal is the owner of Jack D. Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog/business and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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