Turning Terrorists Into Apostles How to Deal with Customer Complaints,

Into Apostles
How to Deal with Customer Complaints,
Problems, Anger and Difficulties
Contact Details:
(+27 11) 640 3958
(+27) 83 379 3466
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @LeadershipLaunchPad
“Sorry, it’s against the rules”
The trust deficit
We don’t even trust the news
Corporate complexity…
and stupidity!
Who is the
21 Century customer?
Alienated, alone,
frustrated, not valued…
“…and surrounded
by morons!”
Short of money
Time Poor
For a generation of customers used to doing their buying research by
search engine, a company’s brand is not what the company says it is, but
what Google says it is. Word of mouth is now a public conversation,
carried on in blog comments and customer reviews, exhaustively
collated and measured.
The ants have megaphones now
(Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired, from his book
The Long Tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more)
Why Businesses Decline
Their customers leave them,
or they leave their customers
Leads to a scarcity of customers
and falling revenues
And why do customers leave?
• Poor quality, high defect rates, deficient service
• Lack of understanding of customers’ needs
• Broken promises
• Inadequate/inappropriate marketing/sales effort
• Many more competitors and choices…
Complaints are Inevitable
…or are they?
Here’s an
A complaint is destructive when it…
• Is uncontrolled opposition which
dissolves common ties we have
• Leads to personal attacks and being
backed into a corner
• Slows down or stops effective
• Reduces cooperation and problem-
But the worst relates to the
consequences of not looking after
your customers
Offensive Marketing:
Chasing chickens
• Is the barrel full?
• What do they do for us?
• Why do they “leak” out?
Thus, once they are inside we need
to defend! The key question should be:
“Why should they stay?”
These can translate into..
• Loss of customer loyalty: no repeat business, loss of X-sales
and up-sales, reduced profitability, cost of replacing lost
customers, etc.
• Lots of poor publicity and bad-mouthing, (35,) in very public
places, rather than referrals and recommendations
• Refusal to cooperate: don’t pay accounts, make unrealistic
demands, treat staff poorly, abuse property, never forgive nor
trust your business
• Making life very easy for your rivals
The problem is that when
customers don’t get satisfaction
from their complaints, they
overreact (the 3R’s)
In addition, for every
one who actually
complains, there may
be many, many more
who say nothing
96% more!
The package that complaints come
in is ugly, grotesque, and
unpleasant, but what is inside is of
critical importance to you and your
• It means that they haven’t done something worse, and are
giving you a second chance to delight them
• It gives you a chance to learn something, and to take action
to avoid or prevent what went wrong
• You can explore to find out if anyone else experienced the
same and be proactive about it
But the best news is that the most
loyal of loyal customers are those who
have potentially experienced
something bad, but for whom the
experience turned out to be a good
one because it was properly handled
Why do most customers NOT complain?
• Don’t think they will get any satisfaction anyway
• Embarrassing and uncomfortable, don’t want to
make a scene
• Feel intimidated by you, or the reputation of the
• Too much trouble/takes too long
• Can just go somewhere else
• May just give you another chance, or promise to
“do something later”
“It’s Not My Department”
“The feeling of having no
power over people and
events is generally
unbearable to us – when we
feel helpless we feel
miserable. No-one wants
less power; everyone wants
(Robert Greene)
What makes
customers like you
and me angry enough
to complain?
• When Delivery > Expectations, we have delighted and
thrilled customers (Anticipating needs)
• When Delivery = Expectations, we have satisfied, (but
indifferent) customers (Meeting expectations)
• When Delivery < Expectations, we have unhappy and
disappointed customers (Not even requirements are met)
Why Do Customers Specifically Get Upset?
• Upset about something else
• Don’t feel listened to, feel ignored
• Don’t want to lose face
• Feel put down or shamed
• Feel other customers were treated better
• Tired, frustrated, or stressed
• Feel powerless, out of control (Victim), or that you are
trying to take advantage
• “No-one will listen unless I make a scene”
And a whole lot more reasons!
We can probably break these down into
two main categories…
• The genuinely and
justifiably dissatisfied
• The totally unfair and
“It's not my fault, but it is my problem”
Customers are not always
• But they are always our
• And there is rarely a good reason
to tell them they are wrong
So what can you do to recover?
• Predict and identify problem areas before major complaints &
relationships break down – kill dumb contacts
• Ensure that recovery is legendary (SWAT Team?)
• Identify triggers for failure, and initiate proactive responses
• Use a consistent system for recording and responding
• Do root cause analysis and prevention, as well as internal
• Don’t punish the messengers. In fact, make it easy for
customers to complain, and empower employees to help them
• Go “undercover”: Use your own business as a customer would
What positive expectations do customers have?
• That you will deal with them with a sense of urgency
• That you will be trustworthy, have what they need and
be able to solve their problem, reliably and
• That you will care, show empathy, and be cheerful
• That you acknowledge how this has affected them
• That you will let them know that their business is
valuable to you
• That you will remember them after it’s over
• That your prices and compensation will be fair
• That you will stand behind your products and services
with a guarantee (Build their assurance)
Unhappy Customers Will Buy Again
No complaint
Complaint not resolved
Complaint resolved
Complaint resolved quickly
With thanks to Toyota SA
How do you react to complaints?
What is your primary complaint handling style?
Two examples…
Remember, dissatisfaction is an
Emotional Issue
1.Before anything else, get the emotions out of the
way. No real problem solving can occur without
first getting the customer calm and rational
2.Don’t fall into the swamp of emotions. Bring
emotional stability into the relationship
L Listen
E Empathise
Empathy provides emotional validation,
and acknowledging another person’s anger
or frustration, helps to calm them down
Counter-intuitively, rather than inciting the
other person's fury and fueling their fire,
our message of emotional validation
actually douses the flame!
Listening with empathy is easy-ish…
•Walking in their
• “If it was me…”
• “It sounds like…”
•Use analogies: “It
sounds to me like you
just feel like you’re
bashing your head
against the wall”
L Listen
E Empathise
S Say how sorry you are
The Art of the
“A phone case that had deteriorated was met with
equal disappointment from Apple staff… The brand
has made what could have been a cold corporate
entity a familiar and welcome part of his life and
something the competing brands will find almost
impossible to dislodge”
More than 210m iPhones sold by Apr 2012!
Does “Sorry” Work? The Impact of Apology
Laws on Medical Malpractice
Apologies made by physicians for adverse
medical events have been identified as a
mitigating factor in whether patients decide to
However, doctors are socialised to avoid
apologies because apologies admit guilt and
invite lawsuits
L Listen
E Empathise
S Say how sorry you are
T Thank them for the
E Explain choices
R Rectify/respond with a
win:win solution
And don’t forget to keep in touch afterwards…
“Is there something we could have done that would
have made this experience better for you?”
• To make sure that the problem has been actually
been resolved
• To let them know that you truly and genuinely
care about them and rebuild your relationship
• To ensure that there is no repetition
(There’s also a “B List”)
You have to deal with it PERFECTLY every time
And Customers
from Hell?
When someone
behaves in this way,
what are they saying
about themselves?
7 Choices
• Laugh it off: water off a duck’s back
• Allow the abuse to continue
• Put the ball in their court: What do you want?
• Confront them equally aggressively, or…
• Confront assertively
• Cut the anchor: let them loose, make it easy to
• Sort it out, whatever it takes. But tell them!
If it looks like bait and smells
like bait, it must be bait!
Don’t wrestle with pigs
You will get all muddy…
And the pigs will love it
Resentment is like drinking
poison and expecting the
other person to get sick
"Too often we get distracted by what is outside our
control. You can't do anything about yesterday. The
door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away.
You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come.
However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what
you do today. You have control over that."
(John Wooden)
It doesn’t matter which way the
wind blows…
The only thing that really counts
is how you set your sail
Remember: No
customer can be worse
than no customers
We need them
more than they
need us!
“If you can keep your head
When all about you are
losing theirs,
And blaming it on you…
Yours is the Earth and
everything that’s on it”
Rudyard Kipling, “If”
David may
have fought
but he didn’t
choose to
wrestle him!
Make the choice!
28 and 29 May 2014
You will leave with ANSWERS…
• WHY you must take action
• WHO is the 21st Century Customer and WHAT DO
• Hundreds of ways to create UNBELIEVABLE
CUSTOMER LOYALTY through “Perfect Experiences”
• Personal Power: How to turn DUCKS INTO EAGLES
And tons more INSPIRING
stories & examples!
If you book through this AdvanceNet event…
 15% discount off fee
 Free copies of all my books
 4 hour DVD with motivational
videos about service
 600 inspiring quotations about
service for speeches and posters
 Voucher for 20% off your next
company event or any purchase
[email protected]
+2711 367 9000