A complaint is a compliment

A complaint is a compliment


A complaint is a compliment: what do we mean by this?  Surely a complaint is a bad thing because it means that the customer is unhappy about something?

Well, of course it’s usually better to have happy customers than unhappy ones, but, who are you kidding?  You can’t get it right all the time, no matter how great your business and systems.  And the person who will notice when you’ve made a mistake before anyone else is the customer.

Yet all research shows that the customer very often doesn’t tell the organisation, so most organisations are supremely ignorant customer experience and all the small moments of truth that really matters to the customer that they are not getting the right is the need to in order to deliver consistent and continually improving customer reputation and loyalty.

So, when the customer complains, they are really doing you a massive favour:

  1. They are informing you of something about your business that you may well not have been aware of.
  2. They are telling you rather than all their friends behind your back.
  3. They are bucking the trend and are being brave enough to bring this to your attention when the 20 other people may well have noticed it but not told you anything about it.
  4. They are subconsciously telling you that they trust you to do something about it and want to have a long-term relationship with your business.

So it’s always a mystery to me why customer facing staff in any organisation so often find a complaint a problem to deal with.

Instead of saying: “thank you so much for bringing this to my attention, let me listen to you more”, they often say something inane and defensive that puts the customer’s back up and makes them which they had never bought this matter to the attention of the member of staff in the first place.

Top tip: change the word “complaint” to “compliment”


  1. Send this piece of information to every member of your staff and have a 10 minute meeting every month on the value, power and joy of compliments.
  2. Start developing a world class compliment response process that is designed to consistently build reputation and referrals in every situation.

For more information for practical support in these areas, please contact

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

How can I be a better leader?

How can I be a better leader?

I would guess that we all want to be better leaders – after all, better leaders get better results with less effort! So what do you need to do to become one?

Here are a few rules and ideas for you.

  • Remember all customers are volunteers – internal and external customers – they want you to be a great leader, so they have something worthwhile to follow.
  • See your internal customers as your no 1 priority – they’re the ones who need leading, inspiring and motivating to deal remarkably with your external customers
  • Have a crystal clear statement of what you and the Organisation are REALLY about (we call this a ‘customer focused mission’ but don’t worry about the name: if people are hyper clear on exactly what does and doesn’t matter to the Organisation, and the values associated with it, then that’s the job done).
  • Lead the Mission by example, and never deviate (even when times are hard)
  • If you ever do have to deviate, tell your people why and when you’re returning, before any deviation happens.
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Communicate effectively at all levels – win/win thinking and agreements
  • Gather feedback through simple systems and ‘management by wandering about’ obsessively
  • Ensure everyone else does the same
  • Use the feedback to understand people’s REAL needs, and Act effectively on feedback, little step by little step
  • Keep going: it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you never stop!


Remember, there’s not a lot of difference between ‘a great leader’ and ‘a bit of a prat’ … focus on small things done brilliantly … by the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s hard.

There’s your answer to ‘how can I be a better leader’?


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



How can we improve customer service ?

How can we improve customer service ?

This is a familiar answer, which encourages acres of print, mainly aimed at telling horses to drink (which doesn’t work, of course, because you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink).

And one the main problems is that it’s actually the wrong question.

Your customer isn’t the slightest bit interested in ‘customer service’, they won’t be less or more loyal to you because of it and you can’t measure it.

Customers might think and say they’re interested in ‘customer service’, but, in fact, they’re actually meaning ‘customer experience’.

‘Customer Service’ is what you do to customers.

‘Customer Experience’ is how they perceive what you do.

And the two are very different.

So, the question is not ‘How can we improve customer service?’, it is ‘How can we improve customer experience?’

And that’s great news because ‘customer experience’ is measurable, motivational and very quickly improvable.

Focus on measuring and improving customer experience, with motivated people (more on that another time), and then using this solid base to build sales through service, and you’ll be well on the path to success.


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



How can we make more money?

How can we make more money?

OK, this is the question we answer for clients all the time, and I guess the 1st thing to do is to change it round:

From: How can we make more money?

To: How can we generate more demand for what we do?

After all, everything is just a market delivered by supply and demand.

And then this question will start to get the creative juices flowing with really great questions that, if answered well and delivered on, will result in a greater flow of money to you. (And this is true whether you’re the MD of a Fortune 500 Organisation or the newest employee in a small business).

  • How can we be more valuable?
  • What value is most desirable to our customer?
  • What value will they be wanting in the future?
  • What will they need to experience in order to rave about us?
  • What could we stop doing because it adds no value?
  • Where are we wasting time and resource but don’t yet know it?
  • How will we know the answers to all these questions?
  • How can we be more approachable and reliable?
  • How can we listen more closely, so they love us more?
  • How can we stand out from the crowd?
  • How can we get our message out more effectively?

And then, when we answer these questions and act on them, the question ‘How can we make more money?’ answers itself.




How do I formulate a sales strategy?

How do I formulate a sales strategy?

Of course you want a sales strategy, otherwise you might look silly at a meeting and get terrible sales results.

But, let’s face it, how many ‘sales strategies’ have you seen that were based on wishful thinking and numbers picked out of the air (at best!)?

So, instead of seeing the need for a ‘sales strategy’, we suggest you start formulating a ‘buying strategy’ instead. You might perhaps be well advised to consider:

  • How can we manage and build our reputation so it spreads for the right reasons?
  • How can we encourage great reputation and continual referrals?
  • How can we ensure customers become more and more loyal to us and want to buy more and more things?
  • How can we become indispensable and remarkable to them?

And then, when you’ve nailed this, you can start considering the next step … a ‘sales strategy’ …

  • Now that we’ve done the above brilliantly, how can we make sure that people can find us easily and want to say ‘yes please’ quickly?

After all, this is the age of the empowered choosy consumer, who shops around the world and can make or break you at the touch of a button.        stratergy

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)’!

Why feedback doesn’t work: manipulating feedback is like taking aspirin for a broken leg!

Woman laughing on mobile phone isolatedAs feedback specialists, we help businesses organisations with all sorts of feedback on-line off-line, direct and indirect, immediate and delayed.

(I bet you didn’t even know that there where so many variations!)

Now, most people are beginning to realise that feedback only has value when it is transparent, and includes both positive and negative; but there are many organisations out there, and even, hideously, feedback systems that are promoting the ability to filter feedback; i.e. you just publish the good feedback (this is a process we use to call in the good old days, publishing ‘testimonials’).

So, without me having to spell out how completely ridiculously daft this is to do this let me just ask you some questions;

  • How popular would Trip Advisor if it only had good reviews?
  • How reliable would customer reviews on Amazon be if they only published the good reviews?
  • How would EBay work if the customer could only publish a good review?

It’s ludicrous isn’t it?  Yet, so many businesses are still on this mind set of ‘testimonials’ rather than feedback!

I don’t know how we can make this clearer; manipulating feedback in any way is like taking Aspirin for a broken leg.

Feedback instead needs to be dealt with systematically structurally, using both immediate and time lapsed systems, and joined together to make it easier for the customer to tell you whether you are good bad or indifferent.

The feedback needs to be published openly so that your consumers will trust you (remember; everyone can get things wrong, just not owning up is the problem!).  And every type of feedback should generate a response that will build customer loyalty and referrals.

There are ways of doing this that are tried and tested and pay for themselves many times over.  If you don’t know about these or have any questions you know where to get hold of us.

Why feedback doesn’t work? simple: you’re not doing it properly!

What to do? you need to engage an expert: it’s a simple as that:

  • you wouldn’t get an office junior to do your tax return,
  • and you wouldn’t go to the post office when you felt ill:

so why go to anyone other than an expert when you need to get the single most important aspect of your business right?

Your customers are talking…  Are you listening?

In today’s hyper connected, value savvy global marketplace, your customers are becoming ever more the key and demanding.  They can talk about you behind your back to the world at the touch of a button and the speed of light.

To quote Jeff Bezos: ‘Your brand is what the customer says when you’re not in the room’

So are you listening?

Research shows, that the vast majority of businesses and organisations are either not listening at all, or listening ineffectively.

Not listening at all: the ostrich with its head in the sand syndrome.  There are plenty of feedback systems to at least help you get started with listening, even if you just monitor twitter and put google alerts on your brands.  If you are not currently listening, there must be a reason for this: either you are nervous and unsure what to do for the best, or you may be frightened as to how to react to feedback as and when it comes.  In either case we at Investors in Feedback can help you move forward in a very cost effective and easy to manage way:

Beware, there are plenty of snake oil salesman out there who will try and take a large chunk of your money for systems that work ineffectually or in an incomplete way.

Listening ineffectually: we find that the vast majority of businesses who are gathering feedback, are using ineffectual systems, these are systems that have the following issues:

  • low response rates
  • no real understanding of what the customer means
  • lack of true information to help you learn and grow
  • perceived unfairness
  • lack of consumer confidence that their review will make any difference (so, instead, they don’t bother to fill in your reviews, and, instead just gossip about you to the world behind your back)
  • and, probably the biggest issue of all, inability for the customer to feed back to you in an easy and risk free way, while they are still a customer to you (i.e. Before they have left you or completed their transaction with you)

Many of the online feedback systems that are touted so widely at the moment have all these issues attached to them: one thing that they do help you with is ‘search engine optimisation’, through publishing your feedback openly and transparently (and this is something that should genuinely be encouraged in all circumstances).

If you wish to know more about all these issues and find out how to put feedback systems in place that would genuinely build your reputation, customer loyalty and referrals, then we are the worldwide leader in feedback audit and accreditation to help you achieve these aims.