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How to turn complaints into a big opportunity for you


Recently I was working with someone who was mentoring me and I wanted to speak up because I was not happy with their service. I felt that what had been promised as part of the service was not being delivered. At times speaking up is a hard thing to do because you are always worried about the repercussions. There again there is always the point that if you are willing to speak up in the first place it means you care and you want a resolution. If you were apathetic about it you would not even call in the first place. I spoke to the person in question and instead of just listening, I was berated. Berated for several reasons, berated for being stuck, berated for having the feelings that I did, berated for having not spoken up sooner. The person did help me with something which was a good help, though it did feel as if I was a pain to them. I left the call feeling angry, upset and just plain disappointed that I was not listened to and that I was spoken to in that way. What I wanted was simply just to be listened to and helped. I also had a number of ideas of what the person could have done next time and how they could improve their service to get feedback.  It seemed to me the person was more interested in defending, placing the onus elsewhere and proving how right they were. 


The call was really unfortunate, because now feeling angry and disappointed about the situation, I certainly will not be referring anyone, nor will I have any good reviews, nor will the person be getting any repeat business from me. It could have been very different. If the person had listened, empathised, asked me questions, asked me simply what I wanted to happen, it could have ended up us having a closer relationship. I would have been on the person's side and going out of my way to promote this person. Hence, now a big opportunity is lost by both parties.


Next time you get someone calling you to complain, remember these tips:


  • It's not personal, it's about the situation, not you.
  • Just listen, listen with no agenda.
  • Empathise, by simply acknowledging what the person is saying.
  • Ask questions, especially open questions.
  • Keep your voice tone calm and look to where you could help.
  • After the call has ended, send an email or message, checking is the person happy.


If you are interested in finding out how you can improve your people skills for you or your team, either give me a call.

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