Business Practices | | Published February 27, 2013

Every Complaint is Deserving of Respect

crazy smileyWhen a particularly ridiculous claim comes in from an upset customer, it might seem easiest to just dismiss it, file it away or not take it seriously. There are other, more pressing issues and requests to address after all, and this person clearly must be out of their mind. One might think; why should a team member take the time to properly address this apparently senseless concern?

However, thinking this way is more than a little dangerous. Not only can it land you in unexpected hot water, there may be a kernel of truth hidden within their seemingly wild accusations. Every member of your team must have customer service respect and treat every complaint as a valid point to address, even if it at times it seems well… a little nuts.

Crazy Talk

A colleague owns a company that was put into a unique situation recently. They were bought by a larger company, which really helped them out in the financial sense. However, this larger company was receiving quite a bit of flak from customers for controversial statements made by their CEO.

Unfortunately, the mess traveled downwards and the smaller company started receiving some of that flak, particularly on social media. The unique situation came about when my colleague had to decide what to do about these people who were contacting them, only mad because of the company’s association with the CEO of the larger company.

Many customer support members would simply ignore these people or at most offer a terse response. My colleague, though, made sure to squash any potential backlash by addressing each angry customer individually. Each customer was reassured that nothing would change and that the CEO’s words were his own, not the voice of the company. The entire team was directed to take this approach when handling such complaints.

The actions of my colleague saved the company from losing many customers. If ignored, the angry customers’ messages may have increased tenfold, especially when people realized there was no official response. Although it seemed crazy when it first started, a potential wildfire was kept from spreading.

Grains of Truth

Just because you disagree with the message a customer is delivering does not mean there isn’t some grain of truth inside of it. Even the strangest complaint received makes a little bit of sense… consider the fact that the customer took the time to write or call about it, so they were clearly upset about something!

In my colleague’s case, it would have been easy to assume everyone just had the wrong idea. What the CEO said was pretty controversial, and it was easy to see why the public was outraged, but that in time they would all just get over it. It would have been easier to just dismiss these issues rather than deal with them.

Had the team taken the easy route, they might have wound up angering their customer base and losing customers. The situation could have snowballed to the point of having to close their doors. This is why it’s so important to not to just let seemingly "nutty" messages fly by without addressing them. Instead, use them as a way to learn and grow as a company and team support group!

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