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This business coaching course is about effective options for dealing with customer service complaints.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Apostle: The customer that loves your brand so much that they want to tell everyone they know.
  • Mercenary: That customer that is price focused only. They will go where the deals are.
  • Loyalist: That customer that is loyal to your brand, but won't necessarily shout your praise from a mountain top.

-My name is like Clay Clark, business coaching mentor, and I'm the CEO of thrive15.com. And today, we are joined with Arthur Greeno of Chick-fil-A fame, and he's going to teach us a little bit about how to deal with customer complaints-- not that you ever are going to have them, but he has-- so how to deal with customer complaints, with Arthur Greeno. Not that he has, but other people. If you own a business, or you want to own a business, chances are, you're going to upset a customer at some point.

Somebody's going to come in and order something, and you're going to give them something different. Somebody's going to buy something. You're going to give them something different. At some point, your expectations and your communication's going to get off, and someone's going to get frustrated. At that point, you're probably going to find yourself wanting to watch this video over and over again. In today's lesson, you're going to specifically learn about how to quickly rebound from a tough customer service complaint.

We all have customer service complaints. And in the battle, we don't want to say the wrong thing. We don't want to fire off shots we don't need to. We don't want to incite a war. We just want to minimize the complaint, find out what we can do better, and move on. In today's social media culture, if you upset somebody, they're going to go online and tell two people, and three people, and five people, and the rest of the world knows about that complaint. However, if you satisfy customers, they can also go online and their friends too, so today's customer service training really is about reputation management. It's about growth, and it's about making sure that you treat every customer the way that you want to be treated.

Remember, at thrive15.com, we believe that knowledge without application is absolutely meaningless. So as you're watching today's business coaching episode, ask yourself, what specifically can you do to uniquely apply today's principles in your own life and business? Otherwise, today's business coaching episode may just be more many less than Jar Jar Binks in the "Star Wars" plot. We're talking about dealing with customer service complaints with Arthur Greeno.

Now Arthur, whether we deserve them or not, every business owner that I've ever met is going to have to deal with complaints. All of us are going to have to deal with complaints at some point.

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.

-No matter how good your management is, customer service training or your systems are. So today, we are here with the customer service legend, yourself, to really ask you, as a restaurant-- you own two Chick-fil-A restaurants.


-We're going to ask you kind of how you deal with this customer complaint issue, because I think a lot of people look up to Chick-fil-A and say, well, gosh. Chick-fil-A does the right thing. They really do a great job with their customers. So I think who better to learn from than you? So first off, with everyone dealing with complaints, Arthur, have you ever actually dealt with a complaint, or is that just me?

-Oh, yeah. I've dealt with complaints all the time.

-Now, not to get you in trouble here, but in your mind, what's the most unwarranted complaint you ever heard of? The one where you said, I have a complaint about this and you almost laughed, because it was so crazy.

-OK. So I actually did laugh when I heard this one.

-OK. At the customer?

-No. I was in the back laughing really hard.

-I want to hear it.

-So a customer comes up to my front counter, and she walks up to the front counter and slams her hand down and says, I want to speak to a manager.


-So my manager goes up front and says, ma'am, how can I help you? And she said, I need to make a complaint. She said, I was sitting right over there, enjoying my food, and somebody came by, and they farted. I'm not making this up. And he said, excuse me? And she said, no. Somebody came by. And we were fully expecting her to say it was one of our employees.

And she said, well, the person who did this is right over there, and it was another customer. And she was very upset about this. And so we went over, my manager. I was in the back laughing. And my manager was handling it very professionally. And he walked over and said to the other gentleman, is this accurate? Is that what you did?

And he said, no. No man, I didn't do that. And he pulls out this machine that every time you squeeze it, it makes gastrointestinal noises. And I laughed even harder, because I have one of those machines.


-And so my manager handled it with class. And he basically said to the gentleman, sir, we really don't try to promote those kinds of things at Chick-fil-A, so if you don't mind taking your food to go. And so he did, and that was the end of that situation.

-Now, are there any complaints you've ever had that were your fault?

-Oh, absolutely.

-Can you give me an example of maybe a complaint 10 years back that it's your fault.

-Taking it way back.

CLAY CLARK: Nothing this week.

-There's been times when a customer may come up, and maybe we feel like they're being ridiculous. And I would let my pride get in the way, and I would stand there and argue with them about what it may be. And it never ends well. I walk away going, yeah! I was right.

-Yes! Shut them down!

-That's right. But then I lost a customer. An you know what? As a business owner, that doesn't serve anybody.

-OK. Now, in the book, the service profit chain, it's written by some Harvard professors.


-They break customers into five categories. Business coaching lesson: You have the apostle, the loyalist, the mercenary, the hostage, and the terrorists. So I'm going to put these up on the board here, because I think that even though Chick-fil-A, you might call them something different, we all deal with these people.


-The first one here is the apostle. And the second we're going to deal with here is the loyalist. And the third is the mercenary. And then you have the hostage, and then you have the terrorist. And so we're going to get into these real quick here. Business coaching lesson: So the apostle is that viral customer who just can't get enough of your brand, and they want to tell everyone they know in the very viral way how much they love Chick-fil-A, how much they love the business.

Business coaching lesson: Then the loyalist is that person that absolutely is loyal to the brand, but because of the way they're genetically made up, they won't actually promote the brand.


-They won't tell people. Like they love a movie. You say, did you like the movie? That's pretty good. They don't have the mental capacity, or the psychological makeup, or whatever to say, you need to see that movie. Then you have the mercenary. This person is loyal to price and price alone. They are loyal to price. And they basically focus on if there's a sale over here, I'm going there.

I'll go to Chick-fil-A today, because I have a coupon.


-I'll go to Chik-fil-A tomorrow. I have a coupon. I'll go to Wendy's the next day, because I've got a coupon over there.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Hostage: The customer that will only work with you because they feel like they have to.
  • Lesson Nugget: Usually if customers are complaining there is a problem that you can fix.
  • Terrorist: That customer that is generally upset with everything and there is nothing you can do to please them.
  • The L.A.S.T. Model: This model diffuses the situation, solves the problem, and lets the customer know that you value them.


-Business coaching lesson: And then you have the hostage. And this is somebody who really feels like you're the only Chick-fil-A in town, and they like your chicken, but they don't like you. And so they're coming here, but they feel like you're not doing a good job. And the fuss is basically the hostage has no other options. They feel like they have to come to you because you're the only chicken provider in town.

And then the final business coaching lesson is for the terrorist. And this is somebody who really on a daily basis-- these people are upset with their spouse, they're upset with the economy, they're upset with the weather, they're upset with every business out there-- and they just want to come to your business to wreak havoc on you. So I'm going to start off here with dealing with the terrorist complaints.

When you have somebody here in this bottom-- it's usually about 5% out of 100 customers-- it might even be less-- it might even be 1% to 5%. This is the person who is constantly angry. You know, they are just angry all the time-- this person. How do you at Chick-fil-A deal with the terrorist?

-Well, actually, we can deal with all of them pretty close to the same way.


-We have a model that we call the last model.

-The last model?

-The last model. What we do is we listen. So we let them go on. Because a lot of times, they just want to be heard.

We apologize. No matter what it is. Whether we were wrong. We had one lady that came up one time, was very upset because the last time she got a fish sandwich at Chick-fil-A it was a lot better than this time.

-So listen is great business coaching advice. Apologize.

-Right. Then we solve the problem. And then we thank them.

-Now, is this taught from Chick-fil-A corporate?


-OK. It's called last.


-Just going to ask you, would this work if I owned a muffler shop?


-If I owned a bakery?


-What about the airline industry?

-It would work for any industry.

-So let's just kind of role play through that real quick, OK?


-So let's say that I am a super negative person.


-Hey, your sandwich tastes terrible. I want to talk to a manager.

-OK. And I would say I'm the manager. What can I do for you?

-Pretty upset, the sandwich taste terrible.

-I'm so sorry. Can I get you a new one.

-I don't want a new one. I'm just very upset. I think you guys should know you're going to lose my business.

-Well, we'd really like to keep it. Is there anything we can do to keep it?

-Well, if I could get a couple sandwiches.

-How about I give you a new sandwich right now and a coupon for your next visit?


-All right. Thank you. Pretty simple.

-Pretty simple. OK and so the mechanics are listen--

-Business coaching tip: Listen, apologize, solve, and thank.

-Why do you thank.

-We thank them for doing business with us.

-You thank somebody who just complained to you?

-Absolutely. Business coaching lesson: A lot of times when customers are complaining, there's inherently something that we can fix. Whether, and I hate to say it, but if there happens to be a foreign object in a sandwich, or if their sandwich was cold. Let's say their sandwich was cold. Maybe I didn't know that my shoot system wasn't working right. So they come back and we listen, apologize, solve, and thank, well, they just did me a favor. Now, I can go and fix what's going on.

-How do you find the strength within you not to rip their head off and show it to them when they come to you just anger based upon something totally unmerited?

-If you have the heart of serving somebody, it's not hard at all. Because you know that they're not angry at me, at Arthur Greeno. They're mad because they felt that they didn't get served right.

-Have you dealt with a customer that was insane. And I mentioned the person who was upset about the other random things. Have you ever dealt with somebody who you just thought was insane and comes in there just yelling?



-Yes, we have. And we've had to escort them out before. There's time that you have to do that.

-You see 1800 customers roughly a week over there?

-A day.

-A day? And so it's amazing to me. 1800 a day. So 10,000 a week, roughly. How many crazies do have a week? Certifiably just nuts, angry people.

-We really don't have as many. Ones that come to us with a problem?


-It's not very often.

-Reason why I'm asking this is because a lot of business owners think that most customers are crazy.

-They do.

-And really it's most business owners that are crazy, right?

-That's absolutely right. Business coaching advice: And if you're looking at it from the standpoint of when a customer comes up with a complaint, that there's an opportunity to make your business better, then you should welcome what they're bringing to you.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: One strategy for dealing with customer complaints is to offer them something they do not expect, thereby diffusing the situation.
  • Lesson Nugget: Companies with track records of great customer service, like Chick-fil-a, systematically train their employees on how to deal with customer complaints.
  • Lesson Nugget: The people on your front lines are the ones that your customers associate with your brand. "You don't have time NOT to train your team."
  • Lesson Nugget: If you are in a leadership position, make sure that you equip your team with the tools necessary to effectively deal with customer complaints.



CLAY CLARK: Now, when I'm dealing with apostle customers, OK-- back to our business coaching diagram here-- that's that customer who is extremely positive about your brand.

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.

CLAY CLARK: They are promoters. There's a lot of-- people out there call them net promoters. They're people that, at the end of the day, they promote your company. How do you deal with an apostle, who you see come in almost every day, that daily customer-- how do you deal with them when they complain?

ARTHUR GREENO: Well, for one, most of the apostle customers, if they're that much of an apostle, they're going to be a lot more forgiving, because they love your brand. And so what they're going to do is they're going to come in and say, this is what happened. I love your brand. I just wanted to make sure you knew about it. And again, we would listen, and we would apologize. And we'd solve and thank.

Now, one of things that's extremely important in that is make sure your people have the tools to fix the problem. So for a business coaching example, if you're trying to solve the problem, and your leadership has not given you the tools, then you're in trouble.

CLAY CLARK: So you say, solve the problem, them giving you the tools. You talking about giving them the latitude to give maybe a $10 refund or a $50 refund? Or--

ARTHUR GREENO: Whatever it may be. Let me give you some business coaching examples. So at our store, we have a lot of drive-through. So they'll come through the drive-through, and if we mess up the order or perceived, they will call us and they will call us upset. They're, in a way, the terrorist.

So they will call and say-- and you can tell as soon as you answer the phone-- well, I need to tell you what happened. Let me speak to the manager and you're kind of going, OK, I'm the manager. How can I help you? And they will let you know, I just came through your drive-through, and either the fries were cold or you forgot something.

And so the very first thing that we do in our restaurant is we offer, can I bring you your food out? And it just stops them cold. They are just like, what? What do you mean? Well it was our mistake. I'm so sorry. That shouldn't have happened. Let me bring it out and fix it.

So I'm offering to solve the problem. Now most of the time, they're like, no, no, no, you don't need to do that. Just by me offering to solve the problem that way, they are totally fine and now they're my friend.

CLAY CLARK: Business coaching advice: Now you're helping somebody, because you're saying that really, no matter what the situation is, listen, apologize, solve, and thank.

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.

CLAY CLARK: OK, now how do you feel when you upset a loyal customer like that?

ARTHUR GREENO: Oh, it eats me up. Even to this day, if I upset a loyal customer and I can't win them back and they walk stomping out the door, I will-- later that day, I'll just be like, I can't believe I lost a customer. Now, I don't spend too much time dwelling on it, but it is frustrating, because my goal is to serve everybody, which is a good business coaching tip.

CLAY CLARK: Now, how do you personally attempt to make it right when you upset an apostle? You see someone come in every day for years, and they're upset and you know it. The bathroom wasn't clean. The food wasn't right. There's something-- how do you-- what do-- do you do anything extra you do personally, to kind of pile on?

ARTHUR GREENO: Yeah, we've been known to do extra stuff. If they're an apostle and we have their information, for whatever reason, we've been known to show up with a party tray at their house, or send them a plush cow in the mail and say, hey, I'm really sorry about that. Please give us another chance. Or give them a free sandwich in the mail.

CLAY CLARK: But even you-- I mean, even you make mistakes sometimes. I mean, that's what--

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely, and you know what? Business coaching truth: There are sometimes you're going to lose people, and there's nothing you can do about it. And you need to be OK with that. Well, maybe not OK with it, but you need to understand that could happen.

CLAY CLARK: Now your schedule is slammed, OK? It's busy all the time. How do you find time, or when do you find time to train your team on the last system?

ARTHUR GREENO: That's actually-- we actually have a book that we created for our team, and it's actually part of-- it's part of the initial training process. And so when we train them, at the very beginning, this is something we go over now. That is our two week follow up book.

So what we end up doing is, after they work for us for two weeks, and they're used to all the bells and the whistles and all the other employees, we'll sit down with them and say, OK, I'm going to go over somethings with you do again, because it's that important. And then we will go over the last model with them.

CLAY CLARK: So you do-- the first two weeks you're really an knocking this stuff out.

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.

CLAY CLARK: OK, so now, do you-- a lot of business owners I talk to say, I don't have time to train my staff and to deal with stuff like this, because I'm so busy. What do you say to that guy?

ARTHUR GREENO: You don't have time not to. It's so important for your t-- and this is the person that's on the front of your line. This is your-- you're saying, this is my best of my best, and they're going to serve you. And then if they're not doing it, what are the things going on the back of house where they can't see anything?

CLAY CLARK: So what do you-- I'm just going to go through the mechanics of this, because this is huge. When you listen to the customer, what do you say to right there, Arthur, when you're listening?

ARTHUR GREENO: You mean when I'm training people?

CLAY CLARK: I guess, if you're right in the action right now, and somebody's complaining. What do you say, when they say I'm not happy with my sandwich? What do you say right there?

ARTHUR GREENO: I would basically say, can you tell me what's wrong? Now honestly, it's not about-- I don't care about the details on it, other than the fact that I want them to tell me what's going on. What are we upset about? I'm upset because the employee didn't take care of my needs well, or is it actually that this had no [INAUDIBLE] on the sandwich. What is going on?


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