While criticism may be challenging to cope with on a personal level, a customer’s complaint is a GIFT. Customers in effect are offering a business “Free Consulting!” Yes, a few are just looking for extra’s or are perpetually dis-satisfied but most have real points to make. For each customer that complains, there are often many more that are unhappy and will simply take their business elsewhere.

When mistakes happen, they are rarely one-offs. Usually a system has failed (training, follow-thru, communication, inspection, follow-up etc.) and needs to be improved. The wise manager goes looking for the underlying cause and addresses it as well.

“When interacting with companies on behalf of unhappy consumers, the Haggler encounters endless variations of “We’ll look into this and hope that once we comment, you will go away.” He also gets cold shoulders. Then there are responsive companies that rectify a problem but won’t discuss what caused it, or will discuss it only in ways that suggest that it wasn’t much of a problem. More like a one-off mix-up. No fixes required. Nothing to learn. We sent a refund, Haggler. Scram.

It’s been a long time since a company candidly discussed a mistake and then honestly engaged with the Haggler about how it planned systemic changes that could prevent others from encountering that mistake again.” – Haggler, New York Times, 10/12/14

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn.