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“In every complaint there is a hidden desire”

I heard this quote from Colin Brett as part of a lecture on Life & Business Coaching. I scribbled this quote down immediately as I could sense that this could be used as a powerful tool for people in difficult situations.

While no one likes complaints, especially the baggage associated i.e. stress, embarrassment, the personal attachment and verbal abuse, there is another way – you can control how you react or not re-act.

Changing the way you view a complaint could have enormous benefits, not just for you but also for your customer. The customer wants you, the business owner, to acknowledge that they have a hidden desire. By asking the customer what they want, you are in a position to listen to your customer’s desires. It is an opportunity to make the best of the situation and also increase customer satisfaction.

Engaging with the customer

There is a danger that if you do not engage with the customer, you will not only lose their custom, but they could potentially lose you future custom. The power of verbal referral is the most powerful sales tool, a satisfied customer will tell 5 people. Yet this could be used to have the opposite effect. A research study conducted by TARP research back in 1999 discovered that on average an unhappy customer will tell 10 people about their experience. In turn, these 10 people will each tell a further 5 people, meaning that a total of 50 people will have heard about their bad experience. It is also important to note that this does not include the massive percentage who will not tell you of their complaints.  

So, back to the customer, when you get lemons, make lemonade. By changing your perspective on how you view complaints, you have the opportunity to look at the person complaining as doing you a huge favour. Remember to be sincere. Nobody is perfect, no business is perfect, but there is always room to strive for excellence. In business this could be used to turn a potential hazard into a solution by using your newly improved customer service technique.

Points to remember:

  1. Introduce yourself and ask the customer for their name
  2. Listen to the customers hidden desire(complaint)
  3. Take notes and reflect the details of the conversation back to the customer
  4. Acknowledge the customer’s dissatisfaction
  5. Inform the customer of possible remedy or future action
  6. Ask the customer if these actions or remedies are desirable
  7. Request to contact customer to ensure remedies and actions are completed
  8. Contact customer with your actions
  9. Optional extra: Offer a token of appreciation

The following could be viewed as the ultimate learning situation: many business owners pay hundreds of euro to consultants looking to improve their business, yet the solution could be right before their own eyes.

In many ways the customer just wants to be valued and treated with respect. I would thoroughly recommend reading a book called “Crowning the Customer” by Feargal Quinn.

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