Clipping the Wings of Complaint.
By Constance G. Konold
Friday, 2nd March 2007
Customer complaints rank way up there with national disasters when it comes to your brand's image.

Who hasn't seen the by now famous PowerPoint presentation "Yours is a Very Bad Hotel" (see link at the end of this article) by Tom Farmer and Shane Atchison of Seattle, Washington, that has circulated on the Internet since 2001?  This clever but devastating (because authentic) kind of customer complaint – humor with a vengeance – ranked way up there with Hurricane Katrina for rattling the Hilton's Houston DoubleTree Club imageWhy? Because "Night Clerk Mike" didn't have a clue about how to handle a customer complaint.

But we have to ask ourselves if poor old Night Clerk Mike, by now a useful case study at institutions of higher international hospitality learning, is really solely to blame.

How your company responds to these "natural" disasters impacts your corporation's livelihood by registering your credibility or lack thereof on the repeat-client's personal Richter Scale. With Alert Orange already being a normal state of affairs in most parts of the world these days due to war, weird weather, and Britney Spears hype, even minor customer complaints are apt to take on tsunamic proportions, at least in the customer's mind – and on the Internet.  That is very bad for you.

Traditionally, when corporate consciousness has been raised enough to recognize the monumental value of customer satisfaction, Damage Control Squads are dispatched spewing apologies and trinkets of atonement after the fact.  More alert companies invest in "Incident" Prevention & Preparedness Programs.  Other focus on Delivering the Promise. (If Quality is not your Promise, stop reading here!)

But where are the true Complaint-Clipping Visionaries & Service-Quality Wizards in this day and age? 

Simply, in France, working for "le ROI" – return on investment – and treating the client as "king"!

"Le Client est ROI (Return on Investment)/ The client is King©" is a new corporate training concept

that takes a meta-view of quality service as a firm-wide commitment, from the top down.  Handling customer complaints will always be a palliative measure unless customer retention is built into company strategy at the very highest level. 

The 3-day program incorporates the Bain Consulting principle that by reducing your yearly client defection by 5 percent you can increase your profits from 25 to 95 percent. That's a Wow Factor!  

Once top management has on-boarded commitment to this quantifiable goal and transmitted it down the line to all executives and staff through vertical and transversal training, the theory is there won't be much for customers to complain about.  Or, if they do, any person in the establishment will have the right attitude to deal with it.  

Yes, second only to the necessity of a top-down commitment to service quality is universal training to instill the service-quality attitude in all personnel.  This investment appears relatively insignificant given that fully 68% of clientele loss is due not to product dissatisfaction but to corporate attitude. 

In three days "Le Client est ROI (Return on Investment)/ The client is King©" promises corporations to learn how to: 

  • Work together toward a corporate service-quality promise
  • Make the Client Attitude a new reflex for all personnel on all levels
  • Develop pluridisciplinary teams
  • Reduce stress and improve results
  • Anticipate tomorrow's victories
According to the program's developers and deliverers, Ann Michele Worrall and François Andreux of France - both with expertise in the hospitality field – "Le Client est ROI (Return on Investment)/ The client is King©" is particularly well-suited to the hospitality industry with its often confused priorities between property managers, owners, employees and clients.

Constance G. Konold teaches Strategic Human Resource Management and Communications in Eshotel's hospitality management MSc program in Paris and London. 

Professional experience on five continents informs her skills as executive coach and trainer in intercultural communications, creativity and releasing human potential.

An ardent traveler, educational consultant and freelance journalist, she is attached to her metaphorically evocative moniker - The Satellite Crew -  www.satcrew.com . She may be contacted at coach@satcrew.com if you need a new flight plan. 

"Yours is a Very Bad Hotel " (click and opens in a new window or copy & paste):

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