Complaints Can Lead To Sales – If You Handle Them Right

No matter how well you’ve done your job, there will always be things that are outside of your control. Things that would drive your customer mad. Things that would make them annoyed. And things that simply add up to bad service.

Complaining customers can be a nightmare, but if handled correctly, can actually give you quality feedback.

Disgruntled customers tell you what they think and feel. And this kind of feedback helps you to see what everyone REALLY thinks about you and your company.

Think about it; how many ‘satisfied’ customers do you hear from? I mean, how many customers proactively call you up or write to you and say ‘I’m satisfied with the quality of goods and services you have offered me”?

I wager not many! But you normally will get some kind of feedback if the customer has cause for complaint. Here are some tips on dealing with those situations you might wish would disappear into thin air.

Firstly, take responsibility. Passing the buck will not only cheese them off even more, but adds to the perception that you don’t care about them or their situation.

A complaint is simply that…a situation that needs attention. The customer doesn’t care who does something. They just want it handled, and handled NOW!

Then, follow this checklist:

* Really listen to what they have to say. When someone is emotionally charged, they tend to not think rationally, so how they say things (as well as what comes out of their mouths) may not be immediately coherent or make sense. Don’t interrupt. Let them let off steam.

* Ask questions to completely clarify what is being said. This enables you to be specific in your summary of what the situation is. If something isn’t clear because of their vagueness or deletion of facts, ask questions to ensure you are totally clear exactly what happened.

* Summarise and confirm. Here, you rephrase your understanding of exactly what they have said and confirm that you have understood it to their satisfaction.

* Respond immediately. You may not be able to solve it straight away; instead, outline what will now happen. Something like “Right, this is what we will do, Mr Customer. I’ll make a call to our dispatch department now and see what has happened to the order. When we know more details, we can then make arrangements to sort this order. After that, we will see how we can stop this happening again”

This gives the customer confidence that you as a company are on top of this and they will see reasons to stay loyal.

* Solve it and follow up. Make sure the right people who can actually solve the situation are involved and make it happen. Then build the relationship by following up and ensuring the customer is happy with the result.

* Learn from the experience. Ask yourself, “How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” Do you need to change the process? Do you have to get on op of your organisation to ensure it doesn’t occur again? What can you personally do to build awareness of this within your department or team?

When you satisfy a disappointed or angry customer, your follow-up procedure can prove to them that they made the right decision to complain and they can see the power of your company in making things right.

You therefore give them many reasons to continue to be loyal to you, especially if you have built up a good relationship with them over a period of time. Remember that the customer’s perception is reality to them. This means that if they think your service is bad, then it’s bad, full stop. No amount of discussion will change that opinion. The best thing to do is acquit yourself best as you can, and give them reasons to use you again.

So, instead of thinking of complaints as real problems and challenges, see them as opportunities to get quality feedback from customers. Many customers will then see how you deal with challenges and observe your company in a different light to others.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

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They Bent Over Backwards To Satisfy The Customer

I just got this in from my friend and super salesman, John Landrine in the US, about an experience he had this past weekend. I had to share it with you and I have a couple of questions for you after you read this short story and example of customer service at its finest!

Excellent Service = More Sales
“Sean, I just had to tell you about what happened in a restaurant this weekend. My girlfriend, her daughter and I go to an Elephant Bar Restaurant in Fresno, California. It’s a Friday night and they are packed. Nevertheless, William, the waiter/server, takes real time to go over the menu and specials. This would normally not be anything extraordinary, except, William had such a motivational manner and self-conviction that you had to believe that HE truly was fan and loved the food himself. He was so enthusiastic that it showed he loved what he was doing and the establishment for which he worked.

However, after ordering and receiving our meals, we had a dilemma. The dish my lady ordered, was simply not what she thought it would be. Though the chef prepared the dish correctly, it did not match what she thought it would taste like. The daughter, did not completely enjoy her dish either, as it too was something she never tried before and it was not as she imagined.

My suggestion was that the ladies order something else and we see how we can fix the situation. However, since we had practically filled up on appetizers, which both women really enjoyed, they were resigned to just remember the next time at this establishment, not to order those particular dishes.

When William came back and noticed the still-full-plates, he naturally inquired as to what may have been wrong. We explained that the problem was not the food, but the choice they made and there was no problem.

Well, for William, there was a problem. He says, “You don’t look very happy. Let me see what my manager says about this…” and walks off. Then enters, Steve O., whom I guessed was a manager, supervisor, yet I found was an extraordinary sales person.

We explained to Steve O, that neither the food nor the service was the problem, but simply a poor menu choice; but Steve would not accept such as an answer. He began asking questions.

The Art Of Asking Questions
Sean, this restaurateur, manager, supervisor or what it may be, began asking questions that any sales professional should be asking in the discovery phase of a sales interaction.

“So exactly what is it that you did not like about this dish?”
“What types of spices do you like better?”
“What do you consider too sweet or too spicy?”

I was impressed.

From the answers he gathered from both of the women, he suggested a dish he thought they would both enjoy and offered to prepared it, serve it and add dessert all at no charge. The women resisted, again reaffirming that the restaurant had no fault.

Then, Steve’s reply nearly brought a tear to my eye, Sean. He said something to this effect…

“I really appreciate that. However, I cannot feel right having you leave knowing that your memory of your experience here may be a negative one. Even if the first few dishes did not work for you, then I rather you remember that the last one you tried was the best thing you ever had! I have to make sure that you leave with a positive experience at the Elephant Bar Restaurant, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.”

Whao! Sean, I could tell, I could FEEL, that William and Steve took their jobs personally!

Anyway, to make a long story short (which I know is already too late), Steve O and William served the extra dish and a custom crème brûlée for the ladies. The check? The check reflected only my meal and the drinks…complements of Steve O. So Steve INVESTED, maybe $50 or so (US) and he secured loyal patrons that are not only going to come back often, but one who will tell everybody he knows; and hey, I know a lot of people!

Sean, many of the sales professionals that we work with around the world could learn something about enthusiasm, customer service and belief in what they sell from big, tall William and Steve O at the Elephant Bar Restaurant in Fresno, California!”


John Landrine

A Few Questions
I thank John for relaying that experience and I can tell you that poor service can ruin a great meal. However, great service can make any meal great.

A few quick questions:

1. How personally do you take your job? Be honest. As a sales person, customer service representative, or whatever is your actual position title; ask yourself, how personally do you view what you do? Are you the, “I just work here…” type person? Or are you a PART of what you do and sell?

2. How enthusiastic are you about what you do? You have seen the product-line ten thousand times. You have demonstrated the machine over five thousand times. You have read that menu at least a thousand times. Are you still truly excited about what you do?

3. Are you willing and ready to do what it takes to ensure that your customers and clients have the best experience with you and your products or services? Are you committed to making sure that you deliver above and beyond what your competition can possibly do? Are you obsessed with being the best and delivering the best and making sure your customers experience the very best the industry has to offer? Or are you satisfied with just being “good.”

Sometimes, you may have to bend over backwards to be the best.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Borderlys)

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6 Steps In Dealing With Angry Customers

There comes a time in every salesperson’s life when they have to deal with someone who has justification to be angry. Maybe it was a major problem with deliveries, something has been promised and it didn’t materialise, or there’s been a complete mix-up that has led to the customer being put in a bad position.

Whatever the cause, the way it is dealt with will make or break the long-term relationship. If you’ve made a mistake, there are certain steps you can take to deal with it and mitigate the circumstances that caused the anger. Here are some ideas:

1) If the client is angry and actually shouting…

a) Tell them “You’re right!”. Most people keep shouting because they face opposition, disagreement or confrontation. By taking that stand, there is nothing to confront, and the client has nothing to fight or shout against.

b) Get absolutely clear on what went wrong and get the details. Have you noticed how difficult it is to yell small details at someone?

c) Be committed to solving it. By taking responsibility, the client will acknowledge that action is going to be taken and that may calm them down.

d) Ask how he would like it resolved. This takes you both into solution-focused mode and keeps the attention on what will happen in the future, rather than what has happened in the past.

2) Find the ‘Ideal’ Solution. This will be something that results in a win-win scenario; that is, the client feels they have had the problem resolved and your organisation doesn’t feel they have been robbed. The best concession is one where you find out exactly how the client uses the product or service. Maybe you could let the client try a product they haven’t used before. Or give a concession that increases the loyalty of the client in the long-term, something they have to keep coming back to you for over a period of time.

3) Sell the ‘Ideal’ Solution: Establish the benchmark, so the client and you can measure the starting point for compensation. If you can compare the value of the concession to what they actually lost in the earlier problem, you can start ‘selling’ the benefits of going with your solution.

4) Agree what the compensation or resolution should be and follow it through: Make sure you give the client every reason to remain loyal to your company. How you deal with situations when they go wrong is often the catalyst to further business, because they can see how you are geered up to deal with things when human error is involved.

5) Use post-problem bonding to make sure everything is ok: This will strengthen the relationship between you both, and convince the client they are making the right decision to be with you.

6) Use it as a learning experience: A wise man said ‘Make sure a crisis only happens once’. You should learn lessons from what happened and work proactively to ensure as best as possible that it never happens again. Once, they can forgive, but twice? Three times? What does it tell the client about your commitment to quality and service?

By dealing with an angry client using these steps, you give yourself a better chance of keeping and maintaining the client’s business in the future.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Dealing With Disappointed Customers

Is it possible to get everything right with every customer? I think you’ll agree that it’s very difficult. Dealing with disappointed customers is something that all businesses need to get right. Research shows that around 70 % of people will do business with you again if you can resolve their problem or complaint, and this rises to over 90 % if it’s done immediately.

Here are some ideas that you might use if you’ve got customers where your standards fell a little short:

Firstly, Acknowledge it. If you ignore it, it won’t go away. If things go wrong, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically lose that customer. Acknowledging you’ve got it wrong can actually mean you care and is the first step in turning a situation round.

Be proactive with it. Ask yourself…What are the things that typically disappoint your customers? Get your team together and identify typical or regular problems, and then develop ideas and solutions to sort it out. Put processes and systems in to deal with it. But make sure that any response is personalised to the specific complaint.

View complaints as warning messages, and learn from them. If a product or process changes as a result of a disappointed customer, then every benefits, as it shouldn’t happen again.

Devise a culture of openness and listening, so that any disappointment is grabbed as an opportunity to turn things round and do better next time. If you meet problems head on, you are in a better state of mind to deal with them, rather than deny them, or blame the customer for being too fussy/picky/ignorant (or whatever) to deal with it

It may not be possible to get everything right first time with every customer, but if you deal with it appropriately and learn from it, you reduce the chances of it happening in the first place.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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