A rose by any other name is still a rose. A complaint, however, by another name can be an opportunity. Complaints come in many forms. Forms such as valid, invalid, minor, major, resolvable, irresolvable, an excuse, avoidance, a lie, a response to an untruth or exaggeration or just a cry for help.
Complaints are often a crossroad in a relationship. They can either improve the relationship or discontinue the relationship. In our business, customer care and service programs sometimes include complaints. Someone calls to cancel their membership because they don’t see the value connected to the annual fee. That’s a valid complaint, usually minor and potentially resolvable. Our job is to explain the benefits and let the customer decide if the value of the membership justifies the fee. No lies or exaggerations, just facts, feelings and civil questions and responses. Regardless of the decision by the customer, the goal is to make sure the experience is a pleasant one.
A couple years ago, we had a client who would complain all the time. She even went so far as to tell us her complaining behavior was deliberate and was her way of getting the best results. After about three months, we fired the client. Life is too short to have energy draining, negative relationships.
Most complaints are expressed in the form of a concern. Someone cares about you enough to point out a concern because they value the relationship and want it to last. I have a pet peeve about eating habits and don’t mind “complaining” to my family or coworkers when basic manners can be improved.
Recently, we had a client complain to us about reallocating resources used for their programs. It was a valid concern and I was very appreciative to hear their feelings. We had a face-to-face meeting to discuss the past, present and future of their programs and the relationship is now at an all time high.
So you see, complaints are opportunities. Opportunities to fix, improve and grow. The only thing you want to avoid with complaints is to have them repeat. There is nothing more energy draining than the continuous drone of complaints. We have to take advantage of the opportunity embedded in complaints to mend the concern.
A rose is always a rose, but a complaint is oftentimes an opportunity.