Corey, a plumber for a construction company providing full-service design and construction services based in Salem, OR told Session 5B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
"A couple years back, my wife took her car down to Les Schwab's to have the brakes replaced. A couple of hours after picking up her car, she went to the grocery store. When she got back home, she told me the car felt like there was some kind of crazy shake or shimmy. I drove the car around the block, and boy, she was right. It did have a bad shake to it. I decided to check it out and took off the hub caps for a little closer look. Upon inspection, I found 16 of 20 lug nuts had been torqued so tight that it stripped the studs. A couple of the nuts pulled right off with my fingers. I went to the nearby auto parts store, bought new lug nuts and studs and made all the necessary replacements.
"The next day, I went back to Les Schwab to talk to the manager. I told him what happened, so he could tell his mechanics to be more careful. After telling him what was wrong, he went out to his shop to talk to the tech who worked on my wife's car. When he came back in, he told me that was impossible, 'The tech torqued the lug nuts to factory specs. So, I don't know what to tell you.' Boy was I mad! All I wanted was acknowledgement and a 'We're sorry.' Now, despite all their advertisements, I refuse to do business with any of their branches.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is sometimes all a customer wants, all they are looking for, is just a little acknowledgement, an apology. An, 'I'm sorry', is always nice to hear.
"The action I call you to take the next time your complaint isn't taken seriously is to take a deep breath and go to their competition from then on.
"The benefit you will gain is fewer headaches, and maybe better service."
A great story that we all can learn a lot from. When you are on the receiving end of a complaint, begin with, "I apologize for your inconvenience," then a hearty, "Thank you for bringing this to my (our) attention." In this case you could say, "Sure glad your wife got home safe. Tell me again, was it all four wheels?" Listen. Listen. Listen. Remember the complainer is trying to help you run a more successful business.
For more insights on professional ways to handle complaints, see
Repeat Business: 6 Steps To
Superior Customer Service
Chapter 3: Pleasant Personality
The biggest mistake is not saying, 'I blew it.'
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems