By Kevin Meyer
Most people fear receiving complaints about their product or service. But as Amy at Another Wine Blog suggests, a complaint can be an opportunity.
asking if there was something else she might need. Turns out she was
taking her teenage daughter on a cruise, and she needed lots
of things. And to make a long story short, what started as a $20
return, ended up being an $880 sale, and a repeat client. Why? Because
I listened to what she was saying, and turned a complaint into an
opportunity, a “gift.”
If one person complains, it's likely that several times that number are also experiencing the same problem but choose not to say anything. And sometimes the solution to the immediate problem is simple, at least in the mind of the customer you are hopefully trying to retain.
This doesn’t just apply to sales, but also how to handle negative
product reviews, concerns about value, shipping issues and website
glitches. A positive response can bring you a bounty of goodwill and
word-of-mouth marketing. A negative response, and you not only lose a
customer, but risk that one complaint turning into a viral
word-of-mouth marketing “campaign” that only benefits your competitor.
Amy goes on to describe three experiences with three different wineries, and how their response to a problem created a long-term perception. The moral?
Joe used to work with a woman named Julie who was fabulous at customer
service. The running joke was how she felt (and sounded to the other
AEs) when she was dealing with complaints; “Why yes, it is
all my fault. I’m terribly sorry; how can I fix it?” But customers
loved her. She was the positive face of the company. She made things
right, and retained the customer. Because she treated every complaint
as an opportunity — a gift. Even when she had nothing whatsoever to do
with the error in the first place.
Embrace complaints… but do something about them to make the customer happy.
david foster says
So this store did accept returns without receipts *but* charged them against whatever sales rep was unlucky enough to get stuck with handling the return?
That may be the single dumbest incentive compensation system feature I’ve ever seen.
Dike Drummond MD says
In my experience, taking very good care of a “complaint” can do two very important things:
1) Show you how to upgrade your systems to a permanently improved level of functioning.
Whatever caused the complaint in the future can be eliminated so that it never happens to another client again.
2) Create a lifelong “raving fan” of the complainer.
It has been my experience that when a person with some emotional intelligence and communication skill handles my “complaint” and goes above and beyond ordinary in making it right … I tell others about it. AND I am much more likely to return to that product or service in the future.
When I have handled incoming complaints in this fashion, I have seen others respond in a similar fashion.
The issue with Complaints is that they challenge the very human notion of “Perfection”. No one is perfect, no business system is perfect. Thank heavens we have “complainers” to show us the better way to get things done.
My two cents,
Dike Drummond MD