Saturday, January 17, 2015


Last month I assured you that a complaining customer is actually a gift, in part because you cannot correct a problem until you know that one exists.

There is another reason for you to welcome the complaining customer: The fact that your customer chooses to engage with you is evidence of their loyalty to your company. Whether or not you are able to solve the customer’s initial complaint, your conversation with them is your opportunity to strengthen the bond they share with you.

When you or your staff lack the training to manage a customer complaint, you might shy away from it, or mishandle it, either of which results in a less than positive outcome. So here are five useful tools for you. 

1. Greet the complainer in a warm and professional manner, putting aside any bias about the validity of the complaint.

Until your staff learn proper techniques, they are at risk of reverting to childhood default mechanisms, which involve self-defense, or denying responsibility, or turning blame back on the customer.  That’s when they are most at risk of uttering pathetic responses like, “That wasn’t’ my fault,” or, “It’s always been done that way,“ or, “Nobody else has had a problem with it.” These are not relationship building mindsets. The best way to nurture the relationship~~and your bottom line, for that matter~~is by responding to the concerns with respect and an open mind.

2. Practice active listening techniques.

3. Explain your next action step and time line.

4. Thank the customer for bringing this to your attention!
Whether you agree with them or not, they have let you know that they care enough about your company to go to the trouble of contacting you. Nurture that!

5. Follow through.
The follow through is as important as the expression of gratitude. If you fail to keep your word, you have effectively sabotaged your entire effort.

We have been discussing a complaint made by a fairly dispassionate customer, as opposed to an irate customer.  That scenario will be discussed in a future post.

In the meantime~~~Happy weekend to all!

Jeannie Newman is the founder and president of JZN Associates. She has a wealth of experience in staff training and customer retention across several industries,
in both the for profit and non-profit arenas. Find her at

1 comment:

  1. Building relationships builds your bottom line. Great article, Jeannie!