Home > Charlie > Complaints and compliments: are you communicating?

Complaints and compliments: are you communicating?

conversation is king


Within 24 hours its easy to immerse yourself into an organisation or business and see when people arent communicating effectively. That’s not to say I would walk into a company with a negative frame of mind expecting to find failure. I most certainly wouldn’t. But as an outsider, it is easier to have a different perspective. It’s also easier to notice the good things – the compliments. This is when you see something and think (or say) “aaah I like that”.


Did you learn that etiquette tip as a kid? When you first meet or greet a person, you select one thing that you can say which is positive about them, and use their name with it eg, “its good to see you again Sue, and lovely to see you wearing that fabulous broach again”… or “its great to catch up with you jenny, you have a positive glow on today”. Try it. It’s lovely when it’s done. And it’s a good thing to do. #feelgood


Complaints are challenges. It’s the area we focus on because it teaches us that we need to learn, educate, and be aware. Complaints happen because we aren’t doing something right. When staff say “I don’t know what’s going on in this place”, it’s probably because no one is actually telling them. Or perhaps they think they are telling them however there are so many barriers in what is being said, they still don’t “get it”. You know the 10 times over edited document that went through 4 layers of approval process? You know what I mean.


Compliments are wonderful. But how often do you get them? How often does someone go out of their way to let you know you have done something right as an organisation and they like your service? Do we ever tell Telstra? Do we tell them that in all reality they do have the best mobile coverage available and if in business we are really quite grateful for them? I suspect not. But it’s true.


Of course, complaints and compliments are all linked to a single act. That is, the act of communicating. And this is an action. If I am frustrated, I communicate. If I am happy, I communicate. But to who? Compliments to an organisation or business take on a different perspective or challenge for an individual. It’s not a regular act… ie there is no call to action to get a result – the only result benefits someone else… and us humans don’t always act on that, do we. I know I don’t tend to share my compliments outside my friendship base. Its true. Ive never written a letter to compliment a company. Have you?


I have, however, written blogs.


So, social media has certainly added an interesting spin on this subject. Because here we can say what we think. We can share opinions. Either via a blog, or via one of the many news streams that clutter the airwaves… be it Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, LinkedIn or other. And those opinions are public. In this world, social media world, if you aren’t having your say, then you aren’t being social.


And in that context, in the business arena it can have a more overwhelming consequence. It’s a bigger risk. What are they saying? Do you really know?


FYI: CHARLIEDesign can monitor voice. We have the means. Having said that, Facebook is bound by privacy rules and so no-one can monitor that!


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  1. February 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Good Post. You raise an interesting point about the importance of communication, however the way in which a corporation deals/manages and responds to both compliments and criticism is largely down to their corporate culture.

    If you think of the companies that regualrly “win” the best places to work, they are also the companies that seem to have the best reputation in the eyes of consumers. is there a connection? Well I would say yes there is.

    Companies must accept that there will be complaints of service quality (you can never please everyone), but it is how they deal with these complaints and manage the consumer for the future that sets them apart from those companies that just lodge complaints, and try to get the complainer off the phone.

    And this is indeed where social media comes in, and can bite. In the “old days” companies could pay lipservice to the complaints, as ther power of the individual was miniscule, and now it is not so miniscule, as you rightly point out. Many people write blogs, and amazingly enough people read them.

    • February 3, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      its true… and it is amazing how many people read them… some go viral via emails and so the hit counter doesnt always cover their readership. I, charlie, had this happen last year with a blog post i wrote about a prominent adelaidian. my work wasnt happy and asked me to remove it – even though it was personal opinion and it appeared (in the stats) that only 25 people had clicked on it. interestingly there were more.

      in reality i hadnt done anything wrong or illegal BUT it was my voice. and they didnt like what i had said. they couldnt really ask me to remove it – and let’s face it, it was already out there. so, i edited the blog to point out it was a personal view and not that of my employer and that if i had offended anyone in the post i was sorry. it worked and helped… all parties were again happy.

      how many times are we not catching these comments though – as a company?

      the tools are there to monitor voice – like they have in the past monitored website hits. why arent these services being called upon more frequently? i believe its because people dont understand the risks. or perhaps, just dont care.

  2. February 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I think the key here is for companies to be proactive, not reactive. This is how companies can truly harness the information that is conatined within their employees and also their customers.

  1. February 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

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