Making a Complaint a Gift


I was invited by Zion Talks of Zion Wifi to give a short talk on the seminar topic of “Handling Negative Feedback.” It took me some time before I realized that one of best customer service training I ever got in my former corporate life was about a book entitled “A Complaint is a Gift.” (It is also the title of the seminar by the author of the book, Janelle Barlow.) Since I did not know who the audience was going to be (until I arrived an hour before my time to talk), I created my presentation based on the assumption that all of them were business owners and employees. It turned out, 99 percent were from the hospitality industry – hotels, restaurants and travel services companies.

You can view and download my presentation here.

I began with an infographic of myself. Geez! The last time I updated this was 2013. I had no time but to just add three items as footnotes and even forgot I now co-own and work for a backpackers’ travel print magazine, too.

Slide3Though most already know that customer service battlecry, “A Complaint is a Gift,” only a few know that the best consultant you can ever hire for free is your complaining customer. Not only do they give “out of the box” advise, it isn’t riddled with bureacracy and internal politics – pure and pristine advise.

I also showered my 100+ audience with a few facts about customer service and complaints, all of which can be Googled from the thousands of other facts and statistics about the subject matter.

Next, I shared my information advocacy, the slogan and battlecry of my website and blog, “The Internet is All About Conversations.” Because it is. In the era before the Internet was born, the world survived because of conversations. However, somewhere in time some people taught us that listening is more important than talking. OMG! Respond and engage! You can’t listen and just smile, then let the other person wait for an hour, a day, a week or an eternity before you respond and engage. Create the conversation even and especially while inside the Internet; because everything today is all about the conversation.

And so, in today’s wired world, we interact with three generations – the Baby Boomers, the Gen X, and the Millennials. Are you and your associates (or employees) equipped and ready to interact with each one of them… all at the same time? Have you set up customer service process? In fact, do you even have a customer service process?

“I’m a small boutique hotel. Why do I need to create a customer service process? My staff and I just do what’s right.”

Okay, before you set up your boutique hotel, you might have created a business plan, right? Definitely, your financial plan or financial forecast. Maybe your sales plan and even a marketing plan. Great! So, why did you not create your customer service plan? Do you think everything will be peachy ’til the end of time? I rest my case.

Everything today is multi-everything – multi-media, multi-platform and multi-channel. People interact in not just one, two or three means and ways but dozens (note that’s the plural tense). Are you ready? Are you equipped? Are you skilled? Did you even consider automation to help you manage multi-everything?

Too much questions and not enough answers, right?

I’ve set up two entire customer service departments, one in a multi-national company with thousands of employees and reps in a FMCB market, and the other dealing in the B2B enviroment – each one totally different from the other. I’ve had my share of hands-on experience in pre-internet and current IT, manufacturing, retail and direct sales, traditional and digital media, and customer contact centers, to name the least. I believe I can answer your questions.

Talk to me here or via

Photo by Philippe Put via Flickr under Creative Commons License.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *