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3 Ways to Handle Customer Complaints Like a Boss

What Southeast Asian start-ups can learn from the CEOs of these big companies

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 03 Jul 2017

southeast asian startup

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Receiving customer complaints is inevitable for any business. Here’s the tricky part: when not handled well, these customer complaints can deal a heavy blow to the business. But when properly responded to, negative feedback can be an opportunity to let the business shine and get more loyal customers.

How does one turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one? Take your cue from these notable CEOs.

1. Steve Jobs’ minimalist, on-point approach (Apple)

Aaron Brooker says in a Quora post that he bought a 22-inch monitor and a 15-inch Macbook Pro, but he was surprised that he was not eligible for an AppleCare discount as it is only applicable when you buy another model of computer that has the same price as the Macbook Pro he just bought.

He sent a brief email directly to Steve Jobs regarding his concern. Steve Jobs responded with a three-word sentence, “We’ll fix this.” The next day, Brooker got a call from one of Steve’s assistants. “Problem solved,” Brooker says.

2. Akio Toyoda’s considerate move (Toyota)

It was in 2013 when Webin Manzana noticed that the dashboard of his 2008 Camry was melting because of the Philippines’ extremely hot weather that time. “Toyota Motors Philippines refused to replace the dashboard due to warranty lapse so I wrote [to] Mr. Akio Toyoda, and explained the case that the dashboard has inherent defect in material causing it to melt under the sun,” Manzana writes in a Quora post. The next day, Manzana received a call from Toyota Motors Philippines and had his Camry picked up. His dashboard was replaced with a new one from a good batch, and afterwards, his car was delivered to his house.

Had Toyoda neglected this, Toyota could have made the news for this bad batch of dashboards because of one customer complaint.

3. Jan Koum’s engaging and witty response (WhatsApp)

Jan Koum received probably one of the funniest customer complaint emails when he got a heartfelt message from Nina Michanie. “I’d like to thank you for the amazing product that you’ve made. There is not a day that I don’t use and love WhatsApp, so from the bottom of my heart I’d like to say thank you,” Nina began her message. Then she proceeded with her complaint: “On WhatsApp there are SIXTY-ONE animal emojis, and not one of them is a sheep.” She closed her email saying, “I sincerely believe that adding a sheep emoji will be very benefiting to the WhatsApp community worldwide.”

Then Jan Koum replied, “Thank you so much for writing to us. As CEO of WhatsApp, I was shocked to learn we don’t have a sheep emoji. However, upon closer examination it turns out we actually do have a sheep emoji: [inserting Whatsapp sheep emoji here] Enjoy and hope the world now makes sense again.”

Michanie’s problem may not have been a major issue. But Koum still paid attention and sent a similarly engaging and witty message. Because after all, having a business is all about solving problems and engaging a community, isn’t it?