USE COMPLAINTS AS A SPRING BOARD – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #77

101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas

IDEA 77:


Even the best-run companies get some complaints. It may be to do with the product, the service that goes with it, or such matters as delivery or technical support. The first way in which to see complaints is as a source of information. They constitute feedback that must be noted: lessons must be learnt, and action taken to stop the situation from recurring. Sometimes a complaint is a one-off, and only affects one customer (although it may be none the less annoying or costly for them because of that). Sometimes too, complaints make the news: as I write this Sony are in the newspaper because batteries supplied for laptop computers are allegedly causing the machines to catch fire. The matter is ongoing, but the cost will be tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of pounds.

While we would all rather no complaints occurred, when they do they must be handled constructively, and the best made of the situation.


From motor manufacturer Mercedes Benz….

I pick an example here that is safely in the past of the company involved. Satisfactorily behind them is perhaps a better way of putting it. After the Mercedes small model A car first appeared, its early models were recalled. This was not because it had an annoying squeak or a wonky door. It was because when it was driven round a corner – it fell over! (OK, I probably exaggerate, but I want an example of a serious fault). Yet now this company’s reputation for excellence seems wholly unblemished. In the immediate aftermath a good many complaints must have been fielded effectively. This is not the place to review complaint- handling techniques in detail: what I want to stress is that the response should be done openly, address the problem head on, and sort it out. With the car example, the company did not make excuses or blame others, it said in effect, we got it wrong, we’re sorry, and here’s how we will sort it out.

In practice

  • Too often the instinct, particularly among sales people fielding complaints that are no fault of their own, is to instantly avoid blame: a response that often begins, “Ah, but ….” Avoid this.
  • Be open, apologize, and do so personally: “I am so sorry”,  not, “It’s those  idiots in dispatch again”. Provided the problem is sorted out, you can move on to sell again, and do so successfully.

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