30. Aug, 2018

Learning To Fail, Successfully (emotional fortitude)

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gate

When he opened his laptop that morning the first email he read was from a long-standing client cancelling his regular order due to 'difficult times'.

The second email was from a recently signed up new customer having second thoughts

Then, a text came through from his bookkeeper requesting an urgent meeting to go through a letter received that day from the Inland Revenue.

If this was your first 15-minutes of a new working day, what would you do?

Being in business for any length of time is bound to attract negative feedback once in a while and it is not unnatural for the undisciplined mind to emotionally surrender to it.

But what if the unanticipated bad news is actually good news?

What if it is acknowledged as an opportunity to learn and grow?

What if your business gains a loyal customer from the experience?

All Feedback Is 'Golden'

When someone willingly takes the time to tell you they have a problem with your product or service they are unconsciously inviting you to put things right. It is a golden opportunity for your business to learn a customers likes and dislikes and provides you with free feedback regarding your position in your chosen marketplace.

Consider these stat’s:

  • 70% of customers whose complaint was resolved in their favour are more likely to keep doing business with you
  • 90% of customers give the benefit of the doubt to your business when you respond to their complaint within 72-hours

So what are the 3-key rules when handling any customer complaint?

1) Never Fear ~ if you are at all afraid of listening to a dissatisfied customer you will never be able to fully understand what their problem actually is! Remaining emotionally detached by listening intently allows them the chance to vent their feelings, which is essentially a cathartic process, meaning they release strong emotions that might otherwise get in the way of a solution.

Research reveals 7-out-of-10 unsatisfied customers will ‘bad-mouth’ a business rather than give it a chance to satisfy their complaint. So every ‘ambassador’ for your business can only be positive advertising.

2) Trust ~ listening with the intention of resolving the problem in a timely manner invariably establishes greater customer empathy. If a particular problem cannot be resolved immediately, simply agree on a process of satisfaction, and stick to it.

An email or letter is often easier to deal with than a phone call because you can mull over its content to make sure you haven’t missed anything before responding.

If you receive a telephone complaint, listen intently repeating your understanding along the way until you agree on the ultimate problem. This is called ‘discovery agreement’ and is the most effective way to demonstrate you comprehend a situation.

3) Encouragement ~ it is always much more expensive to replace a customer than to keep an existing one. Customers who contact you to point out what went wrong deserve recognition.

If you set out to handle a complaint with understanding and compassion, customers will tend not only to give you a second chance but will be more willing to vouch for and recommend your business.


No matter how customer-focused you feel you are, one day you will face your first complaint.

1)    truly believe customers with a resolved complaint are more likely to recommend your business to others, as well as remain loyal to you

2)    treat every complaint as an opportunity to learn and grow by implementing changes that remove the problem

3)    use every complaint situation as a means to strengthen your position in your chosen marketplace

Email john@uetp.co.uk to explore implementing these essential principles within your business