Client Complaints, Loyalty & Ongoing Influence

(Taken from Effective Communication Consulting)

By the time Toyota recently issued a massive recall and halted production on six of its models for sticking accelerator pedals and floor mat pedal entrapment, stories were rife that people had been seriously injured and lives lost. It surfaced that Toyota was warned of problems three years earlier! The US fines were heavy and together with the negative publicity it means Toyota will now have to work hard at re-building their reputation.


Research tells us that 96% of people don’t take time to complain, they simply go elsewhere! But one upset customer will typically tell 11 other people (on facebook or twitter probably many many more!). Those people tell 5 more each – that’s 67 people spreading bad news about your company!

If the problem is fixed quickly, 7-10 customers will stay loyal.


Take all complaints seriously

  • All frontline staff need to know how to handle complaints professionally – not defensively
  • Customers should feel they are taken seriously
  • If it can’t be resolved immediately, give a time and follow up.
  • Thank them for bringing this to the company’s attention
  • Have procedures in place for abusive or misguided customers – don’t respond in kind and lose the rest of your clients who may be listening.

Take all complaints seriously

  • Complaints need to be tracked
  • Rectify broadscale problems asap – leaving them for later can cause disaster (ask Toyota)

Make it easy for clients to complain

  • Survey often, including every concerned customer, not just those who are satisfied
  • Review and address information gathered on a regular basis including the complaint handling process

It’s easy to think that not all customers are right and simply ignore a complaint, but whether they are right or not, clients are the life blood of your business and no matter how good your products & services, there will always be problems – how they are addressed has a massive impact on your business ongoing.

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of "Win In Business", speaker and business consultant.

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