John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH COMPLAINTS? No news is sometimes bad news

Think about the last several times you had an experience less than spectacular. You left a business frustrated or hung up the phone more stressed than before you called. Unfortunately all of us can remember several probably in the past 48 hours. Next, think about contacting the company management about your dissatisfaction.ย  If you are like most people, you donโ€™t bother to waste your time.ย  I never do. But then the customer service consultant voice starts talking to me on my way home.

Voice in my head:

โ€œWhy didnโ€™t you tell anyone?


โ€œI donโ€™t know, I just didnโ€™t, leave me aloneโ€


โ€œBut why?โ€


โ€œBecause they donโ€™t careโ€


โ€œHow do you know?โ€


โ€œJust a feeling I got, no one there seemed to care. I would have had to wait for a manager to come out, then explain my story to him, and I know he would have thought I was trying to get something for free, and he probably would have been defensive. I would have preferred to talk to him 20 minutes sooner than waste my time.โ€


โ€œMaybe, but how often do you think this happens with your customers and clients in your businesses?โ€


โ€œUhhhhhhh, good question! How about minding your own business while I turn up my radio!โ€

Ouch! This happens all the time. We do it as customers, and our customers are doing it to us!!ย  If we are not making it easier for our customers to give feedback, then it is happening to us more than any of us realize. Our customers have better things to do with their time than hunt us down and complain.

Management Service Recovery Training

Customer Satisfaction and Resolution GRAPHIt is difficult to expect your front-line employees to handle service recovery when they have poor role models. Service Management Group (SMG), headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, who measures the customer experience for multi-unit businesses, found some startling information when tracking customer complaints. SMG discovered that managers were the main cause of the very worst problems. These were the situations in which a customer complained directly to the manager. But the manager made the original problem worse by being defensive or unwilling to solve the problem. One-third of worst problems-the ones where customers called into the companyโ€™s headquarters to complain-were about the managerโ€™s failure to resolve the original complaint!

Give Permission, Make it Easy

There are several ways to give permission for our customers to communicate with us. Now I am not talking about satisfaction measurement devices that ask customers their level of satisfaction and how likely they are to refer.ย  That is very vitally important, I spent an entire chapter on it (13) in Whatโ€™s the Secret?. This is something totally different.ย  Iโ€™m talking about giving your customers permission to communicate easily, in a non-threatening way; and not only giving them permission, but asking for their advice, their feedback, both positive and negative. Few companies ask their customers for praise, and lose the opportunity to celebrate and perpetuate that type of outstanding performance. However, very few companies have the courage to ask their customers for feedback if their experience was below what they were expecting.

How Accessible Are You?


Hereโ€™s a refreshing approach. When you shop for a car at Motorcars Honda/Toyota in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, you will notice a red phone in the middle of the showroom with a sign that reads: โ€œHotline to Owner Chuck Gile.โ€ย  Customers know that if any issues arise, they have the power to talk to the top executive in the organization. That provides great peace of mind and a zero risk of doing business with a company. On top of that, the red phone sends a message to all employees, demonstrating the lengths Motorcars will go to make the customer happy.

Grillsmith Restaurant, a Tampa-based chain, posts a sign that says, โ€œI want to hear from youโ€ with the GMโ€™s picture on it and all the contact information, including the cell phone number.

Got Service? Prove it!
John Robertโ€™s Spa rolled out an Experience Guarantee, where guests can pay what they think is fair if they were not totally satisfied with their experience, no questions asked. Did JRS get burned? Hardly. Any time John Robertโ€™s got โ€œshort paidโ€ it was deemed justifiable by the Salon Coordinator. It gave JR great feedback on who were the employees not providing the experience promised and more than 80% of the guests who didnโ€™t pay full price, returned again.ย  John Robertโ€™s retained 80% of their dissatisfied customers!ย  I would say it is working.

It is so simple: it is just marketing to your customer on everything: invoices, orders, at checkout, on the website, even in bathrooms.ย  Here are some examples of what companies have used:


Please tell us about your experience.
It is very important for us to know how we can be the best 

We want your advice on how we can be better

Did we hit the mark today? Tell us
Did we miss? Tell us, please!

Was someone a hero for you today?
We want to recognize them.

Were we the best part of your day?
If you canโ€™t answer yes, that is unacceptable to us.
Please share with us why we were not.

Action Plan
How easy are you making it for your customers to share their experiences? Do you give them the impression you care, that you want to know, that exceptional experience is the only thing you will accept?ย  If you are not getting enough complaints, that may be telling you something.


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