Friday, September 11, 2015

Complain, complain

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     Some people spend their whole lives complaining. They seem to be looking for the next thing to complain about. And they find it.

     When your operation attracts a complainer, be prepared. When a complainer gets you in the cross hairs, it's time to go into action.

     You need to defuse the situation. You need to turn the complainer into an advocate who will spread good words about you and your operation. 

     Example: Janice began her business almost by accident. Her kids searched the net for the "right" backpack they wanted. Most of those commercially available were poorly made and were endlessly duplicated. Every one of their friends had the same or a very similar backpack. Then the kids hit pay dirt--they found a small supplier who made backpacks by hand to unusual designs. Janice bought one for each of her kids, and then she bought more to offer on her website to other kids. The orders poured in, and Janice was suddenly in a business of her own. When she has a complaint, which is rare, Janice takes care of it immediately. In fact, complaints get priority over other activities. When a boy complained that the straps did not fit around his growing shoulders, Janice sent straps for an adult man--no questions asked, no charge. The result was the boy singing Janice's praises on social media. 

     Example: Bill runs a restaurant and is active on social media. When a customer posted a negative review of the restaurant on Facebook, Bill went into action. He commented on Facebook as well: "We love complaints. They tell us how we are doing. And we use every complaint to improve and provide better meals, better service, and better lives for the people who visit us." It worked out well. The customer who had complained returned to the restaurant and identified herself. Bill gave her a free meal. 

     Example: Alice runs a pet supply store on Main Street. Next door on one side is a hardware store, and on the other side is a thrift shop. Customers frequently complained to Alice that they could never find a parking space. Owners of the other stores heard the same complaints. Alice took it upon herself to solve the problem. She contacted the town's mayor, and after months of wranglings with the town's bureaucrats, the town provided parking in the back of the row of stores. Today, customers enter the stores from the front or the back, and nobody complains. 

     Complaints should be taken seriously and solved. Complainers are everywhere. You must meet them and turn them around. Keep it positive.

     Success in business means taking care of business. That includes handling complainers--keeping your personal judgments to yourself.