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Several times over the last couple of days I have heard grumbling from people frustrated because they have dealt with companies that have not handled complaints well. What they were most frustrated about is they have literally gotten nothing back after expressing what they have not been happy with. Generally what customers want most is to feel heard, and if something has gone wrong to have it corrected. And yet most companies fail miserably at handling complaints. If you want to immediately set your company up as different from the competition – teach all of your employees how to effectively handle complaints. There are two important elements in effectively handling complaints. The first is acknowledging the complaint and do what you can to take care of the customer. The best method I have found for effectively handling complaints is described in a book by Janelle Barlow “A Complaint is a Gift”. Whether you use the Complaint is a Gift Formula or something similar – it’s very important to put your customers at ease and find out what they are unhappy about. Which brings us to the second important element – buried in every complaint is a message – your customers are telling you is important to them. If your customers take the time to tell you what they are upset about or don’t like, they are communicating what is important to them. Some of my best business ideas have come from something that wasn’t working, or something a customer was frustrated with. Don’t miss some of you most valuable market research by missing what your customers are communicating. Even though I have talked about the importance of handling complaints effectively in previous articles, I realized it is an important topic to review regularly. My recommendation is to routinely review how to handle complaints with your team. Have a regular team meeting scheduled just to discuss recent customer complaints, how they were handled, what was learned and identify any improvement ideas. Become skilled at handling complaints effectively and watch how many of your customers you turn into raving fans!

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