Do you have complaining clients? That’s good!


The other night my wife and I went to a well-known Mexican restaurant. We ordered the fajitas “combo” which was billed as having chicken, steak, jumbo shrimp, and scallops.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t yummy, it was just okay.

I could accept that. What I couldn’t accept is that there were only two pieces of steak, two pieces of chicken, two (small) shrimp, and no scallops. None.

I told the waiter I was not happy and he went to summon the manager. He came back and said the manager couldn’t come over, he was busy talking to some customers.

I’m a customer! An unhappy one! He should be talking to me!

The waiter said he’d had other complaints about the size of the portions and offered me a free dessert. I declined and asked for the check. I told him I wouldn’t be back and I would tell everyone I knew not to come.

And I will.

Because I can.

What kind of manager won’t come to talk to a customer with a complaint? An idiot, that’s what kind.

When a customer (client) has a complaint, you must talk to him, validate him, and offer to fix the problem. You do not want a customer going away angry, ready to tell dozens of other customers about his bad experience.

You must do this, because it’s the right thing to do.

You must do this because it can stop a dissatisfied customer from spreading negative messages to other prospective customers, which will lose business and generate ill will.

You must do this because when you turn complaining clients into satisfied clients (through validation, apologizing, and various make-goods), that client often turns into one of your biggest advocates, spreading the word about how you took care of him properly when something wasn’t right.

Customers (clients) don’t expect perfection. They expect to be treated right. When there’s a problem, they don’t want it to be ignored.

And so if you own a restaurant (law firm), you definitely want to know when a customer has a problem because it is an opportunity for you. You should welcome complaints, and embrace clients who have them. They are doing you a favor by telling you how to improve.

Unfortunately most clients who are unhappy don’t complain. They just stop calling. You don’t want that to happen. You want to know if they are unhappy with your services, your staff, or you. You want to know so you can make things right for them and so you can fix the problem that is probably causing other clients to be unhappy.

At the very least, give your clients an “exit survey,” asking them to rate and review your performance. Ask them what you did well and what you could improve.

In addition, put a form on your website with language that encourages visitors to share feedback anonymously.

And, if you forget the scallops, make sure you don’t ignore the client. There are too many other lawyers who offer a good fajitas combo.

Marketing is everything you do to get and keep good clients. Here’s The Formula.