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Turning Terrorists into Angels Featured

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Turning Terrorists into Angels

What is the price that business pays when customers complain? The bottom line? Customer complaints are extremely expensive to any company:

  • We not only lose the customer and his future purchases for the rest of his life…
  • But now we need to replace this customer with more expensive marketing, promotional and PR activity – and then they don’t believe the promises we make anyway.
  • Unhappy customers talk – a lot. In this particular case he dramatically and explicitly also told 15000 of his “friends” all of whom had the seeds of doubt planted in their minds about the diminishing reputation of the company. (The statistical average in SA is that one unhappy customer will tell 30 to 35 other people.) But because of Natasa’s intervention, he was actually converted from a terrorist into and angel – with 15000 positive comments to impress the other people with the way in which the company responded.
  • And they become extremely price-sensitive, even while they support your more-expensive competitors.
  • In addition, the company needs to investigate every complaint, and offer customers refunds and compensation.

One of my favourite complaint recovery stories involves the customer care manager of a major fast-food company, Tracey. She was new and hadn’t been briefed by the company on common processes and practices, but she had been well trained in how to deal with customer complaints.


One of the first calls on her first day was from a really irate customer whose family’s order had been messed up. He was also a minor celebrity and had 15 000 Twitter followers, most of whom had all already read a few tweets about his terrible experience, and as Tracey listened to him ranting and raving, he said, “Even if your business offered to do my laundry free for the rest of my life, I’ll never go back again!”


Calling on her training, Tracey listened to his shouting and empathised every once in a while by saying things like, “That must have been awful,” and “No wonder you are so upset.” Within minutes, he had calmed down, and she personally apologised profusely on behalf of the company and the manager of the branch. “And I’m so sorry that we responded so poorly that you felt you had to tell all your Twitter followers,” she ended.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:00
Aki Kalliatakis

Aki Kalliatakis runs The Leadership LaunchPad, a business focused on customer loyalty and radical marketing that he founded in 1989. He helps companies to implement customised service and loyalty strategies and lectures at executive development programmes for a number of business schools of both local and international universities, though he believes practical ideas are more important than academic theory. He adds value at training programs in Africa and around the world.

Website: www.leadershiplaunchpad.co.za

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The SA Leader Magazine


In the June issue

Balancing of Business Requirements and Cultural Beliefs in the Workplace

Measuring your worth – productivity in the modern workplace

Turning Terrorists into Angels

Marketing needs to continually re-invent itself if it wants to retain the 'X' Factor


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