Complaining is someone trying to tell you they want something changed, stopped, or to start something new.
The natural order of things shows us any business that scales must address its customer complaint procedures.
The owner, founder, and leaders can personally address every complaint when you are small. The founder’s passion will overcompensate for the lack of a customer service philosophy.
As the business grows, the founder will have a blind spot thinking everyone in the organization takes complaints as seriously as they do and did during the start-up phase.
Real estate agents are trained and taught to only ask for feedback when the customer is happy. This is because they are seeking out five-star reviews to boost social proof.
A fantastic strategy and one that should be implemented; however, that is not customer service and will not result in improvements in the experience and systems.
A complaint is a symptom of a systemic problem. Everyone must take these issues seriously. Great companies are proactive in seeking out hidden complaints. More on that later.
To get your team to adopt a positive complaint-seeking philosophy. You must have the mantra, “We don’t blame people; we blame the problem.”
It is human nature for humans to hide from complaints. When complaints are hidden from the company, they get worse. I call this sweeping it under the rug.
Most complaints result from a lack of understanding stemming from a lack of training. When mistakes happen, one of two things happens. The person doesn’t realize they made a mistake, or the person does realize they made a mistake.
What happens when the person realizes they made a mistake or a mistake happened is critical.
Companies that don’t have a positive complaint-seeking system will have mistakes hidden and covered up. These are little landmines that will explode when you least expect it. The trouble is many of the landmines are never found, giving the person that covered them up the feedback that it worked.
One way I address this to prevent this behavior is to give your people permission to make a mistake.
Day one at our company, I give everyone permission to make mistakes. In return, I expect all mistakes to be reported and shared so other people can learn.
If people think they will get in trouble, they will not report mistakes to their leadership.
The worst thing you can do as a leader is come down on someone for making a mistake without compassion. If you keep this person, they will not report their next mistake to you. And everyone makes mistakes because…
…mistakes are multi-variable. In aviation, we learn every incident and crash is a long chain of events and that if any one link can cause the incident. And in hindsight, if any one link was changed could have prevented it.
Leaders need to take 100% responsibility for all mistakes, errors, and mistakes at their company. The buck stops with you.
I find the reason leaders lash out when a costly mistake is made is because they know it is their fault, and they are projecting their frustrations and disappointment about themselves onto their people.
The leader is mad at themselves. Drivers and grinders are hard-charging and often insecure. They don’t want to seem weak or imperfect. This is a fabulous trait when starting a company from the bootstraps, but the leader must evolve their leadership style or risk losing everyone.
What do great companies do about customer complaints?
They ask for complaints over five-star reviews. Don’t wait for a client to give you a complaint to learn the improvement areas of your company as your client.
Go to Four Seasons; they will ask you, during your stay, how is your stay going? Anything I can do to make it better?
At the end of your stay, how was your stay? Is there anything we could have done better?
They inspect every critical phase of the experience to ensure the system is being executed and to find areas for improvement.
They have a comment card system in place and run contests and incentives to get people to want to fill them out. They are not looking to hear how great they are doing; they want to find out areas to improve.
Let the customer tell you what they really want and desire. Take your results and share them with the marketing team. This is the foundational insight into your marketing.
Naturally, a great company will get tons of great reviews. Share these great reviews with your team.
Read a five-star review at the beginning of your team meeting. Show your team what we strive for in the customer experience and detail how complaints will show us areas to improve.
Nick McLean Real Estate
Real Estate Greatness
Cheplak Live Coach