In this episode, Louis Massaro shares how to resolve customer complaints in your moving company.
- “You want to have full awareness of what’s going on with any customer that’s not 100% happy, right? So, I told my sales team. I told my customer service. I told dispatch, if you’re aware of a customer that’s not 100% happy, they need to go on the awareness board, which at first was a spreadsheet that we put up on the TV, so we could see what was going on. And then later, we built it into the CRM.”
- “We need to talk to the customer to find out their side of the story, which is always the case. Maybe we need to talk to dispatch. Maybe we need to talk to the movers. Maybe we need to talk to the salesperson, or maybe we need to look at the process. Anytime mistakes happen in your company, it’s one of two things, people or process. That’s it, that’s the cause of every single problem in your company, people or process. And before you go blaming the person, look at the process to see if there’s something that needs to be adjusted, something that needs to be fixed.”
- “A lot of times you could resolve the complaint, because usually it’s not a big thing and you can make them happy. They just, they were heard, you dealt with it. Reasonable people understand that things happen. They just want the company to stand behind their word.”
- “It’s not personal. It’s part of business. And the bigger you get, there’ll be more things that happen. And the quicker you could just let it go, remove the emotion and deal with it, the better it will be, right? It’s all part of business. Focus on the customer’s needs. Too often we start defending, but if they have a legitimate reason, right, they have a reason for the complaint, listen to them and focus on their needs, as opposed to trying to defend yourself in this situation.”
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All complaints come in, right? This could mean anything, damage, just the complaint, a bad review, a credit card chargeback, a BBB, a cancellation, an attorney letter, right? Anything that’s in the category of a complaint, goes to the awareness board. Okay. So, when I set up customer service in my main office, it was really not until I sold my long distance trucks, and I became a broker for a short period of time. And the amount of complaints that were coming from the carriers that we were giving the work to, they weren’t responding to them, right?
In other words, I thought, hey, being a broker will be easy. We’ll book the jobs and we’ll service them. We’ve already got the call center going. I’ll tell you the whole story tomorrow, but it wasn’t, because we would say, “Oh, no problem. You just need to call the carrier.” They’d call the carrier, carrier didn’t want to deal with it, right? So, I went from not thinking I needed customer service, to building out a whole wing of 10 customer service people and a customer service manager. And I said, “You know what? I want to know everything that’s happening. And I want to know every customer that’s unhappy at any given time. Not even a complaint, if they’re not 100% happy, I want it up on the TV screen and I want everybody to see it, so it’s on our, we’re aware of it, and we know that we could, we’re working to resolve that.” Because otherwise, it’s too easy for it to get swept under the rug, right?
If the customer’s not, what a lot of people do, if the customer’s not calling and calling and calling, you’re like, “All right, they’re not calling. Everything must be fine.” One star Yelp review pops up, right? Everything’s not fine. Other stuff happens. Everything’s not fine. You want to have full awareness of what’s going on with any customer that’s not 100% happy, right? So, I told my sales team. I told my customer service. I told dispatch, if you’re aware of a customer that’s not 100% happy, they need to go on the awareness board, which at first was a spreadsheet that we put up on the TV, so we could see what was going on. And then later, we built it into the CRM. But would that be helpful for you guys? Yeah. So, you just want to be aware, right? So, literally, if you had a whiteboard, okay, I’m assuming you guys, we were doing 12,000 moves at this point.
So, even if it wasn’t a lot of complaints, there was enough to have a board for them, right? But even if you have one or two complaints here and there, or customers that you know aren’t 100% happy, put them up on a whiteboard, right? Just be aware of it.
So, essentially, we’d open a ticket, we’d open the complaint resolution form that we had them go through. I know a lot of you have that from Moving Sales Academy. Review, categorize it, and prioritize it, right? So, we would know how did it come in?
Did it come in because the mover told us about it? Did it come in because we found the bad review online? And then we put it in priority on how we’re going to address it and how we’re going to deal with it. And then we do an investigation, right? What happened with this complaint? Complaints, you don’t want to just deal with them and then move on. You want to improve upon that. I mean, already today, I’ve probably marked down, or gave Chris, five or six different things to improve upon for next time, right? Not necessarily any complaints, but when you get a complaint, you want to be able to make sure you make those improvements, but you want to look into what actually happened. So, depending on the complaint, we would take them through this complaint resolution form that we filled out. Who has the complaint resolution form in here, that’s using it?
Okay. So, and it’s like, maybe we need to talk to the customer to find out their side of the story, which is always the case. Maybe we need to talk to dispatch. Maybe we need to talk to the movers. Maybe we need to talk to the sales person, or maybe we need to look at the process. Anytime mistakes happen in your company, it’s one of two things, people or process. That’s it, that’s the cause of every single problem in your company, people or process. And before you go blaming the person, look at the process to see if there’s something that needs to be adjusted, something that needs to be fixed, right? So, you do the investigation, and now you need a resolution. You listen to the customer and empathize with them, apologize if necessary. I have a private client in the room that was at my office, I don’t know, a month ago, and had a customer that… I’m trying to remember exactly what the scenario was.
I won’t call them out. So, no, the scenario was, they put a one star review. They want to take it down. They tried to resolve it, tried everything, tried everything to resolve the issue. I said, “You know what? Write an apology letter, sincere, from the heart, to the customer, from you and your wife, to say, ‘Look.'” Because he was, he’s like, “I’m stressed out. I’m losing sleep over this at night.” I said, “Tell the customer this.” I’m a small business owner. My business means everything. I take pride in what we do, right? I know probably six of you probably have the video of this, because I know, as I was telling them in my office, you guys were breaking out your phones and video of me saying it. But this is my business, is my livelihood. I take it very seriously.
I take pride in what I do. And it’s been keeping me up at night that you had the experience that you did, and I just want you to know that I’m deeply sorry about it. And if there’s anything that I could do at all to help make this better, we’re here. I don’t remember exactly what it was and those weren’t exactly, that was the tone of the letter, and it worked. And it worked. Took the review down, right? It worked. Might not work every time, but make the effort, never let a one star review just sit up there and don’t make an effort to get it down, pay that customer, kiss their ass, do what you got to do, but get it down. That’s like having a retail store with spray paint on it, right? You have a, I don’t know, donut shop, and somebody comes and writes, “These donuts suck.” And you just come into work every day and you’re like, that’s unfortunate, right? Get it down.
All right. So, if the customer’s happy, right, because a lot of times you could resolve the complaint, because usually it’s not a big thing and you can make them happy. They just, they were heard, you dealt with it. Reasonable people understand that things happen. They just want the company to stand behind their word, ask them for a review. Only if their face looks like that though, right? Only if their face looks like that. If their face looks like this, yeah, if their face looks like that, just don’t ask them for anything. Just be glad that you resolved it. They’re like, yeah, all right, that’s fine, but they’re not a raving fan. And if their face looks like that, that gets escalated to the owner. If my customer service team couldn’t resolve any complaints, they would come to me with the complaint resolution form filled out completely with all the investigations done, so I had all the information that I needed.
So, in other words, here’s what the sales person said. Here’s what the mover said. Here’s what the customer said. Everything was smooth in the process, and then I would call the customer, make that final attempt to resolve that issue. So, complaint resolution, all right. As far as the complaint itself, I know this is tough, but don’t take it personal, all right. Don’t take it personal. You got to understand this is part of the business, all right. It’s all part of the business.
You’ve got to remove your emotion from the situation. When I started the business, I was a 19 year old, hot headed kid. Complaints came in, I wanted to fight the customer. You know what I mean? I was so offended and so like, then you grow up. What are you going to do? As a grown man, or a grown woman, going to fight? First of all, you’re fighting people as a grown person, it’s ridiculous, right? That’s high school stuff. When I was 19, I was all hotheaded about it. I never fought a customer, by the way. But what I’m getting at is, I feel the pain, and I know that when you get these issues and they happen, I know there’s a fire in your chest, but you got to let it go.
It’s not personal. It’s part of business. And the bigger you get, there’ll be more things that happen. And the quicker you could just let it go, remove the emotion and deal with it, the better it will be, right? It’s all part of business. Focus on the customer’s needs. Too often we start defending, but if they have a legitimate reason, right, they have a reason for the complaint, listen to them and focus on their needs, as opposed to trying to defend yourself in this situation.
Seek to understand, okay. what we’re going through right now is basically anyone that you have dealing with customers on the phone that might have an issue, or might have a problem, whether they’re dispatch, operations, customer service, these are the steps that they need to follow, okay. First, don’t take it personal. Then seek to understand moving is stressful, right?
You’ve had a customer call you screaming, stressed out. Once you listen to them for a minute, and you don’t defend or block the complaint, you’re able to find the real reason for their frustration. When someone has a complaint, a lot of times it’s something really small, like they’re so emotionally invested in it, it just set them off because they’re moving and they’ve got all this stress going on. And they know that their real complaint is so small that they just start stacking shit to make it sound like they are justified for calling you. You know what I’m saying? And it’s like, you start to really seek what was going on, all to find out that they’re really just pissed because they missed the DirecTV guy, and now they got to wait another day to get TV and they’re going to miss their show.
You know what I’m saying? If you realize where they’re coming from and know, look, they’re stressed. Instead of saying, “I’m not somebody’s punching bag. I’m not going to let them just talk to me like that.” Okay. Let them get the air pressure out, right? Listen, listen, listen, listen. When you have a customer service team with the customer complaint resolution form, this is what they’re doing. So, by the time, if I had to get the call, they’ve already let the air out of them, right? They’ve let them talk. But when you don’t and you block it, you’re like, no, no, and you start defending yourself, you don’t let that process happen. That process needs to happen. And once it does, then you can figure out what their real frustration is and focus on that.
What I used to do is just look at it as a third party mediator. I used to say, you know what, it’s my company, they’re yelling about stuff that we’re doing, but let me take a step back and let me not have any type of investment, emotionally or anything like that. And just look at it and go, you know what? My company did make a mistake here. You know what? They’re being unreasonable with that. And yeah, we could have done better. And I looked at it like that to come up with a solution, as opposed to being in it. It sounds like something small, but a lot of times I feel that we have to play games with our mind, to be able to see things from a different perspective. And if you just step back like that and look at it out here, as opposed to looking at it here and here, it’s a whole different ball game.
What is the right thing to do? The right thing often costs money. But if we look to resolve the issue and then we go make sure that that issue doesn’t happen again and use it as an opportunity to improve, right? We learned our lesson, we paid whatever it’s going to take to do the right thing, and then we move on. Be timely and responsive, right? Acknowledge their complaint. Just the acknowledgement alone helps to let the steam out a little bit. Communicate the process, okay. “All right. Well, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m actually going to need to talk to my movers and I’m going to talk to my sales sales team. This might take a day or two, but here’s what I’m going to do by Thursday. I’m going to send you an email or I’m going to give you a call back and we’re going to get this resolved for you.” Right? Communicate the process, so they know what’s going on. Instead of just saying, “All right, I’ll get back to you.” And then follow up when you said you would follow up.
If you say, “I’m going to call you back Thursday.” And by Thursday, you haven’t had a chance to interview your salesperson or your mover, and you don’t have an answer for them, or you’re in customer service in here, right, and the owner of your company is like, “I don’t want to be bothered with it.” And you haven’t been able to get in touch with them and they’re on vacation or whatever, still call that customer back and let them know, “Hey, I just want you to know I’m still working on it.” And resolve the complaint. You’ve got to resolve it, right? Don’t let it linger. Don’t let it sit out there. Don’t think that it’s just going to go away. This was the reason for the awareness board, because they don’t just go away, right? They don’t go away.
What’s it going to take to make them happy? I mean, that’s the final question, right? After you’ve looked at the whole thing, like, what’s it going to take to make them happy? Give them money or buy a new whatever it is. My customer service team had authorization up to $1,000 per customer to give money back. It sounds like a lot of money, but how much is it hurting you when you get that one star review online? And I know that I would pay, without blinking an eye all day long, $1,000 to get it down, at least. So, you got your $0.60 per pound, or whatever you’ve got. Most people, that’s what it is. But what’s it going to take to make them happy? And then you got to say, well, I got to just stop this from happening, right?
I’ve got to improve some processes, so it doesn’t continue to happen, or I’m just going to be out of business. But it’s one of two ways. If the service isn’t going good and you have unhappy customers, you’re either going to tell them, “Yeah, sorry, $0.60 cents per pound, screw you.” And you’re going to go out of business that way, or you’re going to keep paying them, because you’re like, let me do the right thing and not go fix the core issue of the problem, and you’ll be out of business that way. So, the answer is to resolve the core fundamental issue of why the problem is happening. And never throw money at the customer. What I mean by that is this, my team had that authorization to pay money, but only if it was going to make the customer smile, right?
Otherwise, if they’re still like, “Screw you, you’re the worst. I’m putting reviews. I’m telling everybody I know.” You know what? Keep the money, give them what we’re liable for, and we’ll use that for somebody else who we can make happy. That’s my personal belief, doesn’t mean you have to follow that, right? But I’m not going to, a lot of people would just say, “You know what, here. Here’s $200. You happy?” And almost slap them in the face with $200. Save the 200 bucks. You’re not doing anybody any good. It’s not about the money.
Small gestures go a long way. I told you about that apology letter, sincere apology letters work. This is your business you’re protecting. This isn’t a personal dispute with a family member, or something. You’re like, “I’m not going to say I’m sorry. They got to say they’re sorry.” Right? You got a business that that’s your livelihood, and any type of bad review or bad word of mouth out there is just hurting your livelihood, hurting your family’s future. Do what you got to do to resolve the complaint. Even if you can’t make them happy, decide how you’re going to proceed and close the file. Don’t let it linger, decide how you’re going to proceed and close the file. If it’s got a close out, closed, unsatisfactory, then it is what it is, but you made that decision consciously. And then correct it internally, never leave the scene of a complaint without asking how you can make corrections internally so that it doesn’t happen again. Okay.
Complaints are valuable, if they’re used for corrections. Listen to them. Don’t defend them. Don’t block them. Listen to them. There’s truth in all of it. There’s truth in all of it. Identify the cause. What process can be improved? Who needs more training? Remember, all these issues are either people are process, one of the two. Have a meeting with staff to show the cause, right? You want them to see, you want everybody involved to see how this happened. It’s not necessarily to call somebody out and tell them they did something wrong, unless you have a clear, specific process on how to do something that they’re not following. But if not, let everybody be a part of the solution. Say, “Guys, we’re going to have to do something here. We’re going to have to correct and adjust this process. Who has some ideas on what we could do?” Always call on your team, by the way, right?
Always ask them, I’m bouncing ideas off my team left and right, every single day, always. They’ve got a different perspective than you do, right? And they’re sitting in a different, they’re in your business with you, but sitting in a different angle, sitting in a different seat. They see things differently, right? And then create, or update, your standard operating procedure, your process. We’re going to talk about that tomorrow, but one of the best places to start with creating processes is areas where you’re having problems, right? Areas where you’re having issues.