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The No. 1 way to deal with customer complaints

December 13, 2012 by Ken Dooley
Posted in: communication, customer loyalty, In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing

Football coaches have a saying: “When a quarterback throws a pass, three things can happen – and two of them are bad.”

Well, when customers aren’t happy, whether it’s because a product doesn’t work, they were oversold, or service was poor, three things can happen — and two of them are bad as well:

  1. The customer suffers in silence. Not good. The next time the customer is asked to purchase the product or service, he or she will have a negative attitude from the start.
  2. The customer switches in silence. Not good either. The salesperson knows only that the customer switched and has no idea how to get the account back.
  3. The customer talks to the salesperson and explains the reason for his/her unhappiness. Communication is the best possible outcome for the customer and the salesperson. It gives the salesperson the chance to resolve the problem and keep the customer.

Building bridges

The best salespeople encourage customer communication before problems arise and treat underlying problems when they do, building a permanent bridge between the company and the customer.

Rather than waiting for dissatisfied customers to get in touch with them, they actively seek them out. They pinpoint the reasons for the unhappiness and fix the problems so they don’t recur.

Building bridges creates several benefits for salespeople, including:

  • ensuring unvoiced customer dissatisfaction is as low as possible
  • satisfying customers individually by providing assistance and guidance as appropriate, and
  • determining the causes of recurring complaints and recognizing customers needs that aren’t being addressed.

Adapted from the book The New Science of Selling and Persuasion by William T. Brooks, founder and CEO of The Brooks Group, a sales training and research firm based in Greensboro, NC.

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