Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Handle Complaints

Here's why I like hearing complaints:

1. The Customer is emotional. Passionate, Negative emotions can be converted to Passionate, Positive emotions if you handle it properly.

2. Communication. I'd rather hear from the unhappy customer so I can fix the problem, than for him/her to grumble and complain to others and ruin my business reputation.

Read more from the Church of the Customer blog:

Why a complaint is really a gift

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 03:42 PM PDT

At first blush, a complaining customer is not something we have on our wish list of awesome things in the world.

But this type of customer contact provides a great opportunity to do something remarkable that will build loyalty and word of mouth. Research shows this to be true. Customer experience research firm TARP finds that customers who complain and are satisfied are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no problem at all (PDF).

My experience with Adagio Teas is a great example of this principle. I recently lost the little plastic disk that sits under its IngenuiTEA pot. (Seriously, this teapot for loose leaf tea is super cool. Check out this video.) I couldn't find a replacement disk on their site and emailed them asking why I couldn't buy one. They said there was no way to buy one and that the disk was a nice to have but optional piece of the teapot. I pressed again saying that I prefer to have the disk and how could I get one of them. They offered to send me one for free. Nice! When I received their package, there were two disks plus a sample set of teas and a nice handwritten note.


This was my first interaction with the company as I had received the teapot as a gift. What started out as a complaint about not being able to buy the disk turned out to be an experience worth blogging about. Adagio went above and beyond sending the one disk, and created a more loyal customer who is impressed with their service. That's worth talking about.

BONUS READING: For more on this topic, see Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller's book "A Complaint is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong"

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