I bought a brand new internet modem from a telecommunications agency at Ikota Shopping Complex in Lagos. When I got home and set it up on my laptop I observed that it was a defective product. The signal light took an abnormal sequence which remained permanently at red instead of changing from red to amber, and then to green.

I took my complaint to the telecoms agency and to my surprise the customer service officers were reluctant to take the next step which was to replace the defective product. Instead, I was referred to another location in Lagos where the modem would be repaired. I made it very clear to them that the product should be replaced since it was defective from day one and that the rise issue of repair did not arise since it had not been used.

After persistent calls, explanations and teleconferencing, they finally replaced the defective product and apologised for the delay and other inconveniences which they caused. Frankly speaking, that singular action impressed me so much that I began to do word-of-mouth advertising for that telecoms sales agency. Judging by number of people and transactions across the counter at their sales agency, one can safely say that their business is booming.

Just like the customer service officers at the telecoms agency, the first thing that most people think when they hear a customer complaint, is that it is bad for their business, and future sales can be lost. Although this can be true, it is also possible to turn customer complaints into a profitable situation, with great possibilities for the future.

The following are the 7 best actions you can take for making sure that your customer complaints turn into profits, not failures:Plan  no matter how great your customer service program, how wonderful your products and services, and how perfect your business plan, you will always have customer complaints every now and again.  Therefore, it is only wise that you should prepare yourself by planning in advance for these complaints, and knowing how you will deal with them when they come. The key is to plan the use of a positive attitude.  Make your main goal the preservation of a business relationship with the customer who is complaining, instead of aiming only to achieve your current profit from them.  If you please your customer now, then the profits will come later with continued sales.

Give Priority to Complaint Resolution  give your customer a pleasant surprise by providing him or her with a fast response to the complaint, with a clear explanation of how the issue will be resolved. If the problem cannot be immediately worked out, assure the customer that his problem is among your highest priorities, and then do everything possible to have the problem solved very quickly.

Be a Professional  even if the customer is not behaving in a professional way, it is important that you remain professional throughout your entire interaction with that person.  A customer making a complaint will sometimes behave in an adverse and aggressive way; this is the result of an assumption that you will be resistant to resolving the issue. However, by showing that you are genuinely willing to help, you can assuage those feelings, and assure the customer that he is in the right hands for getting things done.

Own the Issue  no matter what the problem may be, and no matter whose fault, take responsibility for resolving the complaint. If you try to place blame somewhere, you’ll only look as though you are making excuses. The customer doesn’t care who did it, they only want the problem resolved. Begin by apologizing for the inconvenience to your customer, and continue by explaining the possible cause. Finish by telling your customer precisely what you intend to do to solve the problem.

Give Compensation to Inconvenienced Customers  though the hope of complaining customers is for a solution to their issue of complaint, they frequently expect (and receive) much less. To turn the situation into a truly favourable one, give your customers a pleasant surprise by solving the problem quickly and effectively, and then compensate them for their inconvenience. This turns their attention away from their problem toward how they were specially treated.

Follow Up  don’t just assume that all is well because you haven’t heard from your customer. Follow up on the issue to confirm that the customer is indeed satisfied with your service. This not only shows how much you care about your customer’s satisfaction, but it also strengthens your relationship with this person.

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