How do I handle complaints?

How do I handle complaints?

We all get complaints: some are maybe fairer than others, and there’s a lot of print acreage devoted to strategies to deal effectively with them.

There’s perhaps one point I’d like to try and make crystal clear in this post:

In the age of global choice, 2 way instant communication and transparent online reviews, the real issue with complaints is:

NOT the complaint itself, but

Your attitude to the complaint and how you handle it that matters.

Of course it’s important to deal with the complaint itself professionally, but customers will judge you and share their opinions worldwide about you on such issues as:

  • How easy you made it for them to tell you
  • How welcomed their feedback was
  • How well you listened and showed that you genuinely gave a s**t
  • How you went out of your way to try and ensure they left happy

These are the key issues to concentrate on – these are what will turn individual complaints into massive PR triumphs (or the opposite).

A start point is to change the word ‘complaint’ into ‘compliment’, because, by complaining, they’re giving you the message that they care about your customer experience, and believe you’re mature and caring enough to deal with their feedback constructively and kindly.

On top of that, they’re bringing something to your attention that 20 other customers have walked away from without telling you (and instead told their friends on social media).

And those are massive compliments.

How do I handle mistakes?

How do I handle mistakes?

We all make mistakes.

But in the age of global 2 way communication, and instant online feedback and sharing, they can be hyper dangerous – just ask Gerald Ratner if you want proof!

So, in this hyper connected age, it’s vital (not important, vital) to have a key set of simple principles to follow, when they occur: and of course, the flip side of all this is that in this hyper connected age, if you get it right, then mistakes well handled can be a massive boost to your reputation and business.

Want to see it done well: have a look at what M&S did when they ‘boobed’.

Before we go into the rules, we must point out that the rules are based on 4 (common sense) principles, that every customer is looking for:

  1. We genuinely care
  2. We consider the customer’s real needs above all else
  3. We focus on continual small changes
  4. We value feedback and act on it

So, here are some rules:

  1. Actively LOOK for boobs: most customers won’t tell you openly (they’ll tell their friends)
  2. See boobs as opportunities to excel, not something to be frightened of
  3. When you find one, apologise immediately (it doesn’t matter whose fault it was)
  4. Ask the customer for their thoughts and opinions empathically
  5. Reflect and agree small actions together
  6. Thank the customer genuinely for bringing this to your attention (if they hadn’t, the world would know about it via social media, but you wouldn’t)
  7. Take the actions
  8. Thank the customer again
  9. Check the customer’s happy
  10. Take a small action to change processes so the boob can’t be repeated

OK: rocket science it ain’t, but also common practice it ain’t. And this is the No 1 cause for problems in reputation and customer loyalty in organisations. Most boobs are small, but all boobs matter to customers.

The answer is actually quite easy:

  1. Embed the principles in your Organisation (this has to be GENUINE or it’s nothing)
  2. Continually train the actions

Then, and only then, boobs will become massive opportunities.

 ‘Sales through Service’ is a proven and powerful set of systems to boost sales whilst also enhancing the customer experience – to receive a free ebook ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales’, please email or visit



How do we get the most out of social media?

How do we get the most out of social media?

There’s a lot of HYPE about social media, combined with a lot of activity, and usually very few real results – so here’s a very simple and effective approach.

  1. Focus on ‘getting it right’ first. People and organisations who are genuine, passionate, committed and attentive are like catnip to others, whether they get everything right or not – it’s their attitude and stance that’s so attractive. Focus on being genuine, passionate, committed and attentive in your field FIRST!
  2. When you’ve done that, make sure you’re ON all the relevant channels and have a reasonably decent profile.
  3. Then join in the conversation and seek to add value to others as an overriding principle through your genuine, passionate, committed and attentive approach.
  4. NEVER TRY AND SELL DIRECTLY – it turns people right off
  5. Welcome and respond to feedback and reviews (see our numerous articles on this subject especially the one entitled ‘There’s no such thing as a bad online review’)
  6. When you have a good profile and proven added value online – Consider adverts as they’re so easy to measure – start small and see what works first. Consider special deals via online activity.
  7. NEVER make special deals better than those that you offer to existing customers
  8. Review, measure, hone and keep it up and NEVER stop being genuine, passionate, committed and attentive

Social media is just open talk and gossip online. That’s it. So you need to act in a way that’s ‘worth talking about’ for all the right reasons, on and off line – be ‘remarkable’.

‘Sales through Service’ is a proven and powerful set of systems to boost sales whilst also enhancing the customer experience – to receive a free ebook ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales’, please email or visit

What customer loyalty schemes work best?

What customer loyalty schemes work best?

We want loyal customers!

We want customers to buy more and refer others to us!

Of course we do, and there’s acres of print on ‘how to run customer loyalty schemes’, and what to offer as incentives.

There’s just one small problem …. It’s all rubbish!

Recent in depth research shows what we all know as common sense: customer loyalty schemes generally cost significantly more than they generate (not taking into account all the time taken up by them), and they generate no REAL loyalty, just loyalty to the treat.

It’s like training a dog: if a dog only sits in order to get a treat, it hasn’t really learnt to sit, and this ‘training’ will fall apart completely under pressure.

Customers cannot be bought.

I repeat: customers cannot be bought: they can only be seduced (over the LONG TERM) to WANT to be loyal to you and recommend you.

This comes about by obsessive focus on and adherence to ‘customer reputation and loyalty systems in everything we do’. I.e. we see ‘customer reputation and loyalty’ as the No 1 purpose of our existence, around which all our systems and processed are designed, and truly believe that:15. What to do to build cust loyalty

‘If we do this well, the profits will follow … not the other way round’

Of course customer loyalty rewards can play a part in this (look at the Richer Sounds VIP club, or the Naked Wines Angel network for an example of this done well) … but it’s only one smallish part of the overall business strategy, and NEVER an effective strategy in itself.

Otherwise you just get a fat dog that sits when you have a treat in your pocket, and buggers off at any other time …

For free resources and help with customer loyalty systems that actually work, please drop us a line at and we’ll send you our free ebooks on this subject.

Acres of Diamonds

Acres of Diamonds

In the famous story ‘Acres of Diamonds’ a wealthy farmer sells all he has in order to seek out a ‘river that runs over white sand between tall mountains’ because he’s sure he will there find acres of diamonds.

His search ruins and bankrupts him and he dies a pauper, far away and all alone. Back at his original farm, the new owner notices a glint in the stream as his camel stoops down to drink, so he scoops up some gravel only to find it is full of diamonds.

Of course, the point of this is that all you need is right there at your fingertips, and we’d suggest in Business it means this.

  • Your customers can tell you want you’re doing wrong and what you need to do to get it right
  • Your team can tell what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do to get it right
  • Your suppliers can also help you find your diamonds
  • And, above all, your lapsed customers and those who have been in touch with you but haven’t purchased from you will have acres of diamonds to share with you

Every time.

You just need to ask them properly (which VERY few Organisations do): sometimes they think they’re asking by doing ‘customer surveys’ or ‘suggestion schemes’, but these tend to be very barren on the diamond front because they’re the wrong tools!

So instead, most people instead waste vast amounts of time and money on quick fix marketing and searching for the Shangri La solutions to their problems.

And all the time, it’s right there in front of them.

Please contact us at for our free SHORT ebook on this subject called ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Feedback (and what to do about them)’!



What sort of marketing works best?

What sort of marketing works best?

Oh, the time honoured question!

Henry Ford once famously said, ‘I know 50% of my marketing works, I just don’t know which 50%’

The good news is that we’re living in an age of easier measurement and trackable customer behaviour.failure is the opp

The bad news is that there has been an almighty explosion in routes to market and competition is springing up all over the place … often where you expect it least.

we suggest that the whole marketing ‘funnel’ (which isn’t really a funnel at all) should be turned upside down, and marketing should focus on the following sequence of events.

  1. Feedback and engagement with customers to find out what will make them more loyal, and what we can do to achieve this.
  2. Reputation and referral building systems.
  3. Once we’ve achieved that, then gather feedback from existing customers, lapsed customers and ‘not yet’ customers on routes to market and why they chose you.
  4. Then, and only then, develop new marketing processes
  5. Start small, test and measure, then build systematically

Most marketing budget and activity is wasted – adverts and logos may look cool to you, but if they don’t generate at least 10x their cost in new business, then they’re probably a waste.


Please contact us at for our free SHORT eBook on this subject called ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales (and what to do about them)’!



If you want customer loyalty, gather feedback

Customer loyalty is the holy grail of most businesses. Loyal customers:

  • Buy more frequently
  • Have larger order values
  • Are open to new products
  • And actively recommend you to their friends

Everyone knows this, it’s common sense, yet how many people actively pursue a policy of developing fiercely loyal customers? And how many organisations do you encounter as a customer that you actively want to promote and be loyal to?

Not very many?

We would suggest that all organisations know intrinsically that they want loyal customers, but don’t know how to get them.

If they do know how to get them, they haven’t got the budget to do it properly. listening how do I protect my online reputation

We would suggest that the key lies in feedback:

If you want loyalty, gather feedback … but do it properly and brilliantly (which is where most organisations fall down)

We are living in a world where every 3rd email is a request for feedback or a link to a ‘customer satisfaction survey’, yet, at the same time, customer loyalty is as rare as hen’s teeth.

I repeat: they key to feedback is to do it brilliantly and properly. And this is where most Organisations go wrong.

Investors in Feedback has all the answers on how to do it brilliantly and properly, and the point to make here is that: feedback is NOT a cost, it’s an investment in customer loyalty, and it’s probably the best marketing investment any organisation can ever make.

So: if you want customer loyalty, gather feedback using the Investors in Feedback systems and processes: then use it to build a genuine relationship and to show loyalty to your customers … then, and only then, will they start actively showing loyalty to you.

To enquire about Investors in Feedback systems and processes, being licensed or coached in how to use them properly, please do contact us at or email

The Key Principles of Effective Customer Feedback

The key principles of effective customer Feedback are;  Investors in Feedback Logo

  • Gathering feedback is vital … and responding to it effectively is what really matters
  • In the world of the empowered customer, not gathering feedback is suicidal
  • The method of feedback gathering must depend on the relationship you have with the customer: one size does NOT fit all!
  • Written feedback has no body language and should be used very cautiously
  • The customer isn’t interested in what YOU want to ask them: they’re interested in that THEY want to tell you: never forget that
  • The feedback process should enhance the overall customer experience: not detract from it
  • All feedback can be used to build sales and reduce costs: there is no such things as ‘bad’ feedback
  • The customer can forgive you for making a mistake: they’ll never forgive you for not engaging with them
  • In the world of the empowered customer and transparent online reputation, the winners focus on ‘return on relationship’

Want to know more? Click here to get in touch.