Never Ignore Complaints
By Alan Gillies

It's unavoidable, human beings will
always make mistakes. Businesses
are managed by human beings.
Logically, all businesses will therefore
make mistakes in some form or another.

How you go about addressing those mistakes is what will set you apart from others?
Your business coach will invariably say that you should take care of every complaint
that you come across in a professional and effective manner. Above everything else,
don't ever ignore complaints!

When you receive a complaint, try and turn it into an opportunity.

In other words, do not look at it in a negative light, but look at it as a chance to
improve, a way to better your service and also as a way to teach yourself or your staff
about the finer aspects of complaint resolution, as preached by your business coach.

Nobody likes to hear a complaint, or to be accused of doing something wrong, it's just
part of human nature. Human nature may also dictate that we should be defensive, but
this is rarely the best approach to take.

Get to the bottom of the complaint immediately. Now it is certainly true that some
people are perpetual complainers, who refuse to be happy and will seemingly
complain about everything. These people are, however, in the minority and the people
who take the time to complain generally have a valid case.

Executive management coaching teaches us that we should go through a five step
procedure when we receive a complaint. If you follow this procedure to the letter, you
will invariably solve the dispute and stand a good chance of retaining the person who
has made the complaint in the first place as an ongoing client.

To start off with, always make sure that you understand the problem. Sit down and
listen to what the person is saying.

Secondly, make sure that you acknowledge them. It is not enough to just nod your
head (which could be an invisible action if you are talking to somebody on the
phone!). You should repeat in detail to them that you understand what has happened,
acknowledging that they are complaining to you.

Thirdly, apologize and mean it. Understand that someone who's complaining is
burning up emotional energy and you really should acknowledge this promptly.

Once you clearly understand the problem, having listened carefully, acknowledged
the problem and initially apologized, then you should take action immediately. Your
business coach will tell you that you need to find out what will satisfy them - and that
this will vary. For example, one person might want a refund, whilst another person
might be looking to upgrade to a better model for higher service. It is best to offer
them choices, rather than being narrow in your offer of resolution. Whenever you can,
you should go above and beyond what the complainer might expect. Do not opt for
the minimum. It is always better in the long term to offer an additional discount, or
some kind of free gift to try and smooth the muddied waters.

Finally, when you have completed the first four steps of listening, acknowledging,
apologizing and acting, you need to make sure that you follow up. Good business
coach advice will prompt you to send a letter of apology, but always schedule a phone
call or e-mail at a set date and time in the future to make sure that you have solved the

If in doubt, consult your business coach to help you set up a complaint resolution
procedure for your organization. At the very least, you should ensure that the five step
process is followed by everyone who deals with any of your clients during their daily
working schedule. It is in the best interests of your entire organization to follow
executive coach advice and make sure that customer relationship management is

Alan Gillies is the Managing Director of the L2L Group, specialising in supplying Executive
Coaching, Training and Consultancy Services to Businesses around the World. Want to find out
more about these comprehensive business building success strategies? Get Alan's phenomenal
FREE Business Pack.
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