Service Quality Institute

Effective Complaining to Achieve Results

MINNEAPOLIS, March 12, 2014

"You should feel good about complaining,"  according to celebrated author and speaker, John Tschohl, "Before social media only 4% of the people with a problem took the time to complain."  Fact is most people got too frustrated trying to find the channels to go through to get the best results.  Some would tell up to 20 other people and let it go at that.  This may have taken care of the anger and frustration regarding poor service but, it never solved the problem.

The average person today can take a problem viral in hours.  Now, thousands hear about problems within 24 hours.  The average person has 130 friends on Facebook and has numerous connections on Linkedin, Twitter, etc., etc. etc.  But, that's just venting, that's not solving the problem.

John Tschohl, author of The Customer is Boss, believes people do not know how to turn their complaint into effective action on behalf of the company.  Most people begin their complaint with the person they are complaining about.  It starts at the bottom and many people don't believe it will do any good.  It sits at the lower level and doesn't go any farther.  Afterall, if the complaint comes in at the bottom level, they are not going to send it on to management to show what a terrible job they did of handling it.

You work hard for your money and deserve to be heard when things go wrong.  Just take the time to find out whom to go to and give them the opportunity to correct the situation to your satisfaction.  Keep in mind that if everyone consistently lets businesses know about their displeasure, more businesses will realize that good service is in their best interests and will provide it.  You don't have to take it and wouldn't you rather write a testimonial than a complaint?

Following are a few businesses and the effective way to approach a complaint:


1)    Airlines-If an airline will not resolve a complaint, write to the Bureau of Customer Protection, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington DC, 20428.  This office will review your complaint and determine if the FAA rules have been violated.  They will also tell you your rights.  Also send your complaint to the Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP), P.O. Box 19029, Washington DC, 20036, and a private consumer organization which monitors the airline industry.

2)    Banks-Go directly to the bank officers.  Many times and most of the time, tellers do not have the authority to solve the problem.  If that doesn't work, get the name and email of the President of the bank and send them a direct complaint letter.  Many times officers are insulated from all customers but the largest depositors and borrowers; so, a confrontation with a run-of-the mill customer is likely to catch the officer's attention and render him or her very cooperative.

3)    Government-When dealing with government bureaucracy, you always have the advantage of an appointed official who is interested in being reelected.  If you get no satisfaction, a letter to the elected official detailing a legitimate complaint usually will yield instructions to the department you're dealing with to see to it that you receive satisfaction.  Your ultimate weapon if all else fails?  THE PRESS and SOCIAL MEDIA.  No one wants negative exposure

4)    Restaurants-About half of the American food dollar is spent in restaurants. The majority of restaurant owners realize that a sterling reputation takes years to build, but that it can be tarnished in a flash when people start complaining to neighbors friends, relatives, and co-workers.  You don't have to be a professional "foodie" to write a review. Once you have, post in on Facebook and Twitter.  The word will get around! There are many restaurant reviews online.  Two excellent ones are and  It can also be helpful to look at those to AVOID bad service all together.

Everyone has the right to experience good service, a quality product, and top of the line customer service however, it's not becoming the norm in today's service sector.  Consumers need to demand quality and top notch performance.  As much as it is the responsibility for the company to quickly rectify a problem, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to let the appropriate channels know when there is an issue.

According to one study, 56 percent of all complaints result in satisfaction for the complainer.  So, it's up to you to motivate these companies.

John Tschohl, an international service strategist and speaker, is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a

customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service. The Service Quality Institute ( has developed more than 26 customer service training programs

that have been distributed and presented  throughout the world. John's monthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge. He can also be reached on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.



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