Turning complaints into compliments


Employees frequently concentrate on the positive side of their conversations with customers, and often fear management disapproval if a complaint comes to light. This can often hinder what otherwise might have been healthy and useful criticism.

Complaints can show a business what needs to be changed, so owners should work hard at generating honest feedback from their customers, be it positive or negative.

One way to solicit feedback is by simply asking customers to provide it. An example would be sending a personal letter to customers that includes a questionnaire, or invites them to call if they have any complaints or problems.

If a customer complaint concerns a specific employee, it is often best to speak directly to him or her about the problem, and try to determine what can be done to rectify it.

Generally, complaints are best handled by the people that can do the most about them, which is usually the person in charge of the particular area. A complaint about the business’s telephone system should go to the business administrator while the personnel manager would handle a complaint about a secretary’s rudeness. However, customers can complain to any member of staff, so handling them should be everyone’s responsibility.

If a business decides upon this approach, adequate employee training is critical. Employees must be made to feel that they play an important part in customer service, and it is the responsibility of management to encourage this company ethos.

Business should present customer service training to employees in a way that puts them at their ease. Let them know that it is healthy criticism, which should not be taken too seriously. Do not blame or praise, because this could lead to resentment or low morale. Feedback should always be presented in the context of, ‘How could we do this differently?’

Businesses may start to see improvement in a very short time, but this process can take as long as a year. Training your staff to look at customers more closely is an easy and effective way to measure customer satisfaction on a daily basis.


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