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COMPLAINT MANAGEMENT and customer service
from AstroTech’s Little Book of Big Business Secrets, out this month! Get a copy by writing to

Complaint management
Listen - Respond - Resolve

The values of a company are most evident when it has to deal with problems. When everything is running smoothly, you seldom hear much from customers - it is when something goes wrong that you get the opportunity to really show what you are made of and what you can do.
All processes and procedures should be invisible to a customer. It is how these processes can be adapted to resolve crises that put a company under the service spotlight. Never hide behind red tape as an excuse, use each customer encounter as an opportunity to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and streamline processes.
Customer complaints are the ultimate opportunity: there is nothing worse than an unhappy client who does not complain but takes their business elsewhere. The complainer is actually looking for a resolution and wants to communicate with you, even if their tone indicates otherwise.
Establish empathy; it is important to find common ground, imagine how you would like to be dealt with in the customer's situation. What would make you calm down and what would make you angrier? You need to make the customer feel 'listened to' and acknowledged, even if their points are not necessarily valid.
Save arguments and defensiveness for letting off steam around the water cooler - they have no place in providing outstanding customer service.
Customers appreciate the concept of ownership from sales staff. If you take personal responsibility for sorting out their problem, and follow up with appropriate communication, you can make a friend for life and turn a really cross customer into someone who gives you years of repeat business.
There is nothing more valuable to a company than feedback from its clients - are they happy with us, what could we do better, where can we improve? These are the questions to be sensitive toward at every customer interaction.
Develop frontline attitudes that strive for excellence with clear, unambiguous communication. Misunderstandings are often the cause of customer dissatisfaction. Managing expectations around delivery is the way to ensure that customers are never silently disappointed. Turn the furiously vocal customer into a praise-singing advocate. Lindy Bobrow

Customer service
”Selling takes place with words; buying takes place in silence,” Mark Kaminsky, Astro Tech facilitator.

Start any communication with a big, warm smile, people will smile back at you. This sets the scene for the rest of your communication with that person.
Everybody wants to be treated as somebody. The more important you make people feel, the better they respond to you. Use their name. Listen attentively, look them in the eye and ask questions. Give sincere compliments. Pay attention to everyone in a group, and acknowledge that people are waiting to see you.
You can change your life, by changing your attitude. Negative thoughts create negative outcomes. A positive attitude results in greater positive recognition and you will handle challenges more successfully. Celeste Allen
At work have someone professional and friendly answer the phone promptly.
Do the staff that interact with clients speak clearly? Do they remember to say please, thank you and to apologise for errors? Do they make each customer, especially difficult clients; feel special and valued every time?
Be respectful of cultural differences.