Thursday, June 11, 2015

Complaints resolved

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     You get complaints when you're in business. Complaints are part of the territory. They come in many colorful ways, but all are useful in helping you improve your operation.

     Example: Gina runs a hair salon. When a new customer posted negative comments on Facebook, Gina responded in a professional way. She posted positive comments of her own, keeping the focus on every customer's concerns. She offered a free do-over for the lady who complained, turning the complaint into good vibes for the operation. 

     Example: Mary is an artist who makes mosaics using Venetian glass. She has a small studio where the public is welcomed. And she has a website and a Facebook presence. Her telephone number is published, and she gets calls. Sometimes, however, she is busy creating and lets the ringing telephone go to voice mail. While she tries to return calls promptly, sometimes she lets them go into the next day. One woman called every 15 minutes for two hours and left a telling message. "If you cannot pick up the phone, I assume you're out of business." That was it. When Mary tried to call back and explain, the woman hung up on her. These days, Mary has her phone on speaker beside her as she works.

     Example: Karl is a massage therapist. A first-time client complained at the end of the session that she had been bruised. While nothing was apparent on the woman's skin, she insisted that it was a deep bruise and wouldn't show. Karl offered a double solution--he would waive the charge for this session and he gave her a gift certificate for a future session. He thought that this was what she was angling for all along. It satisfied her and today she is a regular client. 

     Example: Jill runs a breakfast cafe. One customer complained about the meal, although he had eaten everything--the eggs were runny, the coffee was cold, the orange juice watery. Jill wiped out the charge and apologized to the man. When he left, she immediately looked into the situation. She found that the cook was rushing things too much and the waitress was overworked. Jill used the customer's complaint to re-organize and hire a part-timer to absorb some of the work.

     Whatever the complaint, it is an opportunity to consider improving your own operation. Of course, sometimes, people complain because that's who they are. Know the difference, and act accordingly. 

     Complaints represent useful curves in the road ahead. Use them to continually adjust to the changing marketplace.