Momentum Podcast: 455
Complaints Remove Constraints
by Alex Charfen
When you get a complaint or negative feedback what do you do?Do you just delete the message and move on? Maybe you block the person if it's online?I take a totally different approach to complaints.Back in 2009, I had a complaint made about me online.The person who made that complaint is now a great friend of mine and I'm grateful to him for making that complaint years ago in a way that was clear enough that I saw it and could make sure I could rectify the issue.I reached out and built a long-standing relationship from that complaint.
When you see a client complaint, don't get upset, get excited. Every complaint is an opportunity to turn things around and build a relationship. Every complaint is an opportunity for you to improve your business.Every complaint removes constraint.If you're a listener of the podcast I would love it if you could leave a review on Itunes. If you've already left a review, please know that I appreciate you and thank you for being a listener and giving me your time every day.
Full Audio Transcript
About 20 minutes ago, I got off the phone with a really good friend of mine, Joe Pryor and his wife Charlene. The two of them are incredible and they've been great friends and clients since 2009. But what's surprising about our relationship that has endured a decade, is that it started when Joe made a complaint about us publicly online.
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.
Alex Charfen: While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
Alex Charfen: I've told this story a ton of times and I actually remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2009 and Cadey and I were in our second year of the certified distress property expert designation. And in our first year in 2008, we had done about $500,000 in business and in 2009, we were on our way to doing seven million dollars in business. Our business was exploding. We had created massive demand, we couldn't fill it all. There was people coming at us from every angle. We were working on major partnerships with lenders and with [REMAX] and I was starting to get calls from Fox News and CNBC. Our business had literally exploded in growth, and it was incredibly overwhelming even with the systems and structures and everything else we have.
Alex Charfen: In fact, just a few months earlier before that, sorry, not a few months, about a year and a half earlier than that, Cadey and I had literally declared bankruptcy. So we had gone down to zero. No team, no employees, no help, no leverage, literally nothing in our lives when it came to business because we were bankrupt. We went all the way down to nothing and had to rebuild. And it was an exciting time and a challenging time and there was all kinds of stuff going on. And I remember I came into my office one day and I signed on to the computer. I opened the computer and there was website in real estate called ActiveRain, and it's a blogging platform for real estate agents. And back then 10 years ago, it was incredibly popular. I don't know if it's still that popular right now. But back then it was a place where real estate agents exchanged information, real estate agents shared referrals.
Alex Charfen: They talked about what was going on and occasionally, they might go online and complain about someone. And I remember that morning, opened up my computer and on ActiveRain, the first thing I saw was a post that said, "Don't rush out to get your CDPE designation." And I read the post, it was by Joe Pryor and he detailed how he had ordered the CDPE designation from us. We had told him we were going to ship him materials, he never received them. He called in to get them reshipped. We reshipped him materials and he never received them. So we had missed twice with him and he was very clear in his post about how he felt like it just wasn't that professional and it was challenging and he had to call in and he was frustrated by it. And when I read his post, I totally understood. And the fact is we missed. So I immediately picked up the phone. Well, I looked up Joe Pryor, figured out his phone numbers, picked up the phone and called first his office.
Alex Charfen: He wasn't there then I called his cell phone. He's a real estate agent, you can get it online. And he picked up and I said, hey Joe, this is Alex Charfen. I've just read your blog post. And what happened was he stuttered. He was like, "Uh, oh well, okay. Well, hi Alex, how are you?" And then we had a discussion. I said, "Joe, I'm doing great and I just want to let you know I read your blog post." And then I went on to explain to him everything. I told him, "This is how we're running our business and this is the opportunity we've run into. And this is how fast everything has grown. And honestly, we've been overwhelmed. I read your post and you're absolutely right. Our team missed in a phenomenal way and I feel terrible about it and I want you to know we're going to fix it for you and then we're going to fix it for anybody who comes in the future. And I appreciate you bringing it up in a way that it got visible enough that I saw it so we can make sure it doesn't happen again."
Alex Charfen: And Joe and I had a great conversation. And by the end, we were laughing and joking and I told him how much I appreciated him, making sure that this was visible enough. It got fixed, and we ended up getting off of that call. And here's what's happened since then. Joe Pryor has become one of our most loyal clients we've ever had. In fact, he didn't just become a CDPE agent, he became a CDP. Then he bought our CIAS designation, which was our investor designation. Then he went to our lead training classes. More than one, he actually came to multiple classes. So he bought pretty much everything we put out since 2009 until today. And today, I had a sales call with him where it looks like it's highly likely he's going to be jumping into our billionaire Code Accelerator Program. So lifetime value of a client, Joe's been worth a ton, but it doesn't end there. He's also been a massive source of referrals. I can't tell you how many dozens of people took the CDPE, or the CIS designation, or came to one of our business classes because they were referred by Joe.
Alex Charfen: It happened over and over and over again. And it all originated from Joe being frustrated and upset with us. And by me reaching out and building a relationship around that complaint. And here's this challenge that I have with client complaints. I hear entrepreneurs say stuff all the time like, oh, I had a guy complain online. I deleted it and moved on. Or I had somebody tell me my course wasn't valuable and I blocked his messages. I take a totally different view. See, our business, our company today helps entrepreneurs grow and scale businesses fast. And I mean fast, not normal fast, not normal growth. I'm talking momentum based, crazy growth that is exciting and enlightening and it pushes you like crazy. And every once in a while here's what's going to happen, you're going to break something and you're going to let a client down.
Alex Charfen: Here's the reversal here, here's how I want you to think about client complaints. So here's the issue. Whenever we see a client complaint, as entrepreneurs, we get upset. I want you to switch that. Whenever you see a client complaint, I want you to get excited. Here's why you should get excited. Every client complaint is an opportunity to turn around and build a relationship. It's an opportunity to turn around the complaint and build a relationship with the person. It's an opportunity to reach out to them and make things better. It's an opportunity to reinforce the purchase decision they've already made. Hey, they have a complaint, that doesn't mean they hate you. They have a complaint, that means they actually care. The second reason why this is so important is because every complaint gives you the opportunity to fix and improve the issue with your process.
Alex Charfen: So somewhere in your business, you miss something. Somewhere in your business, there's a reason someone complained. So it gives you an opportunity to look at your business and question, what happened? Why was the client complaining? Did you set the wrong expectations? Did you deliver the wrong thing? Did you miss a step in your process like we did? By solidifying that and cleaning it up, every complaint lets you make your delivery better for every client you have in the future. That's a reason to get excited. Another reason is you can stop an issue from reoccurring. If you've had issues over and over again, or if you're having the same complaint, you can chase it down, stop it and snuff it out so it'll make your entire business run smoother and it will keep you from losing momentum. Every complaint is an opportunity to remove constraint.
Alex Charfen: You should just let that thing in your head, every complaint remove constraint. Because if somebody complains, you can turn around and fix things. And here's something you have to know about clients who complain, clients who complain care, they care. They want your product, they want your service. They're complaining because they had hope in you. They had belief in you that has now been challenged or let down and they're complaining to give you an opportunity to fix it. And Joe proved clients that complain publicly, will compliment publicly. Complaints that go on answered however, can kill you. Every complaint you have is an opportunity, it's an opportunity to fix it. It's an opportunity to remove the complaint. It's an opportunity to talk to a client that cares. If you turn it around, you could have a client that complains, become one of the biggest complimenters and referral sources just like Joe.
Alex Charfen: Every client complaint is a massive opportunity. And I understand the fear here because I've heard it in masterminds. The fear, people say, well, if I directly address the complaint, doesn't it give it credibility? Yes, give it credibility, make it a credible complaint. Find out what was going on for the person. If somebody is complaining, that means you have an issue somewhere. It's not the person. If it's a person who's the wrong avatar and shouldn't have bought your product and they're complaining because they're in the wrong place, how did they get there? You have to ask yourself that question. Your business ecosystem is yours. Take responsibility if somebody complains. So the whole issue of, do I give them credibility if I address the complaint? To me it's a nonissue. Of course, you give them credibility and of course you address the complaint because it's a massive, massive opportunity. Alex Charfen: Here's what you need to know. If somebody complains, reach out to them, listen to the issue thoroughly. Let them explain all the issue to you and then ask them questions. Get clear, make sure you understand everything that happened, how they felt, what they would rather have happened, how they think you should fix it. Get information from that client. It's an opportunity. Two, be quick to take responsibility. One of the first things I did on my call with Joe, I said, Joe, you are absolutely right. You know what happens when you do that? The negative energy, the frustration, the irritation, sometimes the aggression that's on the other side goes away. When you're absolutely right, there's no need to be frustrated or angry or upset or any of those things and certainly not aggressive.
Alex Charfen: So be quick to take responsibility. You'll calm the situation and then offer a resolution, listen to the person's complaint and offer a resolution. This is interesting. I remember with Joe Pryor, the resolution I offered and I said it like this. I said, Joe, I'm really sorry that you've experienced this. I feel like we've really let you down. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go back to my member services team and we are going to go hand grab some of our resources. We're going to put them in a FedEx Pak and I'm going to make sure that you have them tomorrow morning. I'm going to personally make sure you have them tomorrow morning. And I realized you've been waiting over a week, and that's absolutely challenged your use of our product and, I think he'd actually been waiting two weeks. It's challenged your use of our product and it's been really frustrating.
Alex Charfen: So I'd be willing to do anything else that you think is necessary up to and including a full refund and let you keep the designation and stay as a member. And what Joe said back was really telling. He said, oh, I don't need you to do that. I actually been in some of the videos and the product's really good. I want the resources. I would love if you get them to me tomorrow morning, but you don't need to give me my money back. And so here's what happened. We let somebody down. He complained. My resolution was to fix the problem and go as far as to giving them all of his money back and he designated that we should keep it. He decided we should keep it. Because when you treat somebody with respect and you listen to them and you understand them and you tell them you're going to correct it and you're honest with them, they will treat you with respect, honesty, and integrity the same way back.
Alex Charfen: So here's the result I want you to think about. Every complaint becomes an opportunity to remove constraint. Complaints remove constraint. So every time you have a complaint in your business, it is an opportunity to improve your business. It's an opportunity to build process. It's an opportunity to stop it from happening again and it's an opportunity to create massive momentum. I get excited when we have a complaint. Does a little part of me say, oh, I wish it didn't happen? Of course, it does. But then I have to remind myself of what I tell every entrepreneur I work with. Your business is broken and if things go well, it always will be. So sooner or later you're going to have a customer complaint that you must address. It's a natural part of doing business. You can't beat yourself up for it. It's just what happens. Don't beat yourself up that it happens.
Alex Charfen: Just be proud of how you resolved it and how you made that client feel important and how you made sure that they knew that their complaint was addressed, taken care of. And that not only will it not happen to them again, but it won't happen to anyone again. Customer complaints are a massive opportunity to remove constraint. That's how you should look at it from this point forward. I have a quick favor to ask you. I would love it if you could give us a rating or a review on iTunes for this podcast, or give us a review wherever you listen to this podcast. Podcasts are crazy. We've had 1.4 million downloads of this podcast this month. And out of 1.4 million downloads, I've talked to a bunch of people and we've gotten a ton of feedback, but it's really just one way communication. It's like a broadcast, so we really don't hear a lot back.
Alex Charfen: And if you'd be willing to go leave a rating or a review, I would really appreciate it. I think right now as of this morning, we're at 232 five star ratings and five ratings of the other stars. So it's a pretty incredible ratio. And if you've already left a review, I just want to tell you, I appreciate you. Thank you for being a listener of the Momentum Podcast. And if you haven't left a review and you're willing to, I really appreciate it. Thank you for your time today and I look forward to checking in again with you tomorrow.