Customer Complaints Breed Sales If You Handle Them Correctly

Customer Complaints Breed Sales If You Handle Them Correctly

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

The customer is always right. Except when they are wrong, which is most of the time. In sales right and wrong don’t matter.

Keeping the customer satisfied and happy is what matters. What’s the best method of handling the dreaded CUSTOMER COMPLAINT? Try The Personal Touch Method.

Here is a formula I have developed and used over and over. To institute this method you must first and foremost TAKE RESPONSIBILITY even if the fault isn’t yours, or you won’t be the one who handles it. The customer doesn’t care. He’s pissed. He just wants you to handle it. Now.

Here are 15 Steps to Taking Responsibility when Dealing with Unhappy or Dissatisfied Customers. Not only does this method work, but it provides for a selfanalysis at the end to prevent the same problem from occurring again. All 15 steps must all be used, or loss of a customer will result.

  1. Agree with them at first. (never argue)
  2. Tell them you understand how they feel.
  3. Empathize with them. (site a similar situation, tell them that it makes you mad too, tell them a similar thing happened to you)
  4. Listen all the way out. Make sure the customer has told you everything. Don’t interrupt. Ask questions.
  5. Confirm that all is out and that they have said all they want or need to say.
  6. Be an ambassador for your company. Tell the customer you will personally handle it.
  7. Don’t blame others. Admit you (and or the company) were wrong.
  8. Don’t pass the buck. It’s not my job, I thought he said…, she’s not here right now, & someone else handles that, are words that are never applicable or acceptable to the customer.
  9. Respond immediately. When something is wrong, people want (and expect) it to be fixed immediately. The customer wants it perfect.
  10. Find some common ground other than the problem. Try to establish some rapport.
  11. Use humor if possible. Making people laugh puts them at ease.
  12. Figure out, communicate, and agree upon a solution or resolve. Confirm it (in writing if necessary). Do it!
  13. Make a follow up call after the situation is resolved.
  14. Get a review if you can. Resolving a problem in a favorable and positive way strengthens respect, builds character, and establishes a solid base for long term relationships. Tell the customer you would appreciate a sentence or two about how the situation was resolved.
  15. What have I learned and/or what can I do to prevent this situation from happening again? Do I need to make changes?

It is important to be aware of some practical realities when trying to accomplish the task of satisfying the customer. They are:

  • The customer knows exactly how they want it, or exactly what they want, but may be a lousy communicator and not tell you completely, or tell you in a way that is difficult to understand.
  • Remember you’re the customer elsewhere and think of how you expect service when you’re the customer.
  • Every customer thinks they’re the only one you’ve got… treat them that way. Make the customer feel important.
  • The customer is human and has problems just like we do.
  • The customer expects service at the flip of a switch.
  • It all boils down to you.
  • The customer’s perception is reality.
  • How big a deal is it to try to give them what they want?

Customers talk to their associates, friends and neighbors. Here is the number of people they will talk to based upon how well you handle their complaint:

  • 3 if you do a good job
  • 10 if you do a great job
  • 25 if you do a bad job
  • 50 if you do a real bad job
  • and you will be on the 6:00 news if you do a horrible job (Action9).

When you satisfy an unhappy or dissatisfied customer, and you can get them to write you a review telling you they’re happy and satisfied now, I’d say you have a solid shot at a long term relationship. If the problem is left unresolved, the customer will surely find your competition.

When a customer has a complaint, you have an opportunity to
solidify your relationship…if you handle it properly.


Toward Error Free Positive Communication, from The Sales Bible. Don’t let poor communication keep you from the sale. Just go to, register and enter the words ERROR FREE in the GitBit.