Challenge Your Thinking

Turn Your Customer Complaint into a Positive

The last thing we want to hear during our work day is complaints from customers. However, it does come with the territory. Here are a few tips on how to turn your customer's complaint into a positive.

1. Listen

When a customer comes to you with a complaint about one of your products or services, listen to them. Listen to what they are telling you, and take notes if at all possible.

The number one thing a customer wants when they have a problem is for someone to listen to them.

Allow them to vent, let them get it all out. Once they have explained their problem in full, begin to ask any questions you may have to get a full handle on the situation.

While you are listening, body language is very important. Make sure you maintain eye contact. This sends your customer a message that you are taking them seriously.

2. Be Empathetic

When the customer is done explaining their problem, show sincerity by telling them that you understand how they feel. Apologize on behalf of the company that they feel the way they do, and tell them that you are committed to resolving their issue within the guidelines of your company.

By becoming defensive in this situation, you are taking a bad situation and making it worse.

By having an understanding of where your customer is coming from on the situation, and speaking in a calm tone of voice, you can clearly defuse the situation.

You don't by any means want your customer to become angry and cause a scene.

3. Offer a Solution.

We have all heard the expression "the customer is always right."

I don't necessarily agree with this, but it is important to work toward finding a solution, even if the customer is in the wrong. For instance, you might try meeting them half way.

You will know whether or not your customer is a repeat offender, and you can handle the situation accordingly.

For customers who have a legitimate complaint, it is best to rectify the situation right then and there. Whether it is giving them their money back, or replacing their product.

Always leave your customers with your business card and tell them if they should ever have a problem again, they should not hesitate to contact you immediately. This will help them regain their confidence in you and your company.

The main goal when a customer has a complaint is to not allow the problem to snowball. Your objective should be to defuse the situation and retain your customer.

By handling tough situations such as these in a professional manner, you will find your once complaining customers satisfied that you resolved their issue, and a new found respect for you.

Global Organization Consulting

As the Executive V.P. of Human Resources located in Paris, I had the functional leadership challenge of evolving an existing HR organization into an international team capable of meeting the professional challenges of a changing French global manufacturing business.

Based on the initial geographical challenges we faced, I engaged Norm Gauthier to provide organizational consulting support in the U.S. I knew he was someone I could work with and trust, especially in working remotely with me from Europe. His experience, allowed him to quickly assess what we had, the major challenges we faced, and helped identify step by step what needed to be done. He also helped define the needs in terms of skills and competencies required in building an effective international HR presence.

He used his business consulting experience and knowledge of HR practice to carefully focus on individual and collective development 'gaps' creating conditions that allowed team members to take risks, experience new roles and ...in the end take on more of a leadership position. During this change management process, he took on individual and team coaching assignments in support of several organizational initiatives. He also developed several international train-the-trainer development modules, linking each to the staged development and roll-out of critical management tools.

Results of the work… we now have a worldwide HR organization that uses the same processes and tools despite their location in the world, which is rare for a Global company. Our HR members are recognized by Business Unit management as professionals they involve early in the change process to provide advice and counsel. And, with the focus on developing leadership and accountability at the operational HR management level, the team now exercises a different level of problem solving and collaboration that requires less leadership time and involvement in decision making.

An outstanding work quality that is very effective…Norman respects the fine line between the 'decision maker' and the team - thus creating a challenging environment for the boss and a safe environment for the team to take on initiatives and risk - learning conditions that we needed.

J. Dekker,
Executive V.P., Human Resources Sperian Protection

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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