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I often think it’s odd that the word ‘complaint’ has such negative connotations, because in business, a complaint can give you a positive direction for free. When a customer complains, it gives you a chance to find out what’s going wrong in your business and try and prevent it from happening again.

Now, of course you could run the perfect business where no one ever complains – and if so, a big pat on the back for you – but I’m guessing most of you will have the odd complaint along the way.

The best advice I ever got was to “make it easy for customers to complain”.  It may sound like wishing for bad karma, but if a customer wants to complain and you’ve made the process easier for them ― you’re already on your way to a happy outcome.

There’s nothing like a bad customer experience to motivate someone to share their experiences and woes with the world ― it seems we’re hardwired to vent and often vent to everyone we come across.  So, having a proactive complaint management process that deals with issues effectively works for the customer and for your business – it’s far better they are talking to you about the issue than everyone they know (and not to mention their Twitter and Facebook networks).

A proactive complaints system let’s your staff know how to deal with any issues that arise in advance.  Simple systems that work for your employees, means the issue is far more likely to be dealt with properly and not further irritate your customer.  And, once you have received a complaint, make sure you at the very least, respond to the person who made it. Just acknowledging someone’s issue will often appease them and take any fire out of the situation.

If you keep receiving complaints relating to something specific, then that is obviously an area you need to work on.  Receiving a complaint also means you can see how your business is operating through someone else’s eyes – something you think is acceptable may not be to your customers, so it’s a good way for you to work it out.

And remember, if you’re the one giving criticism, always try and make it constructive!

Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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