COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on Amazon

by Corinne

26 Flares 26 Flares ×

Chapter five –


I have noticed that there are many, many articles written on the subject of HowTo Deal With Difficult People both on the blogs and in books.


The world is replete with them and I agree that it is tempting to just cut off all contact.

But there is a flip side of the subject and that is handling those complaints.  These are the people who have become difficult because they think they have been wronged in some way.

These people are our obligation because we represent the source of their problem.

When I was a kid just out of college, I was hired by the New York Telephone Company to be a commercial representative.

This was a coveted job because it paid the exorbitant sum of $39.00 a week.  It took a gazillion interviews before you were chosen.

Before you were permitted to speak to one of their customers, they put you through a rigorous training for three months.  A full month was devoted to answering complaints.

One of the first principles taught was to immediately express extreme sorrow for the inconvenience.

(These were the days when customer service really meant something)

We were to infer that of course we must be wrong.  And it had to sound sincere.  They had a term for this sincerity in our voice called “tone” which was graded mercilessly.

It was the exact opposite of “push one for billing – push two for technical assistance etc. etc.etc.” that we hear today.

I am soooo sorry about that.  Please tell me what happened. Or, there was a mistake on your bill?  Let me help you correct our records.

Another principle is we were absolutely forbidden to say these two words.
They were, “Yes, but –“

They even had tone contests in the role playing exercises.  I won once and all I could think is I must be the biggest phony in the class.

For years afterwards when I really wanted to express sorrow to a friend, I questioned whether I sounded sincere.  How was my tone?

Then, we were to hear the customer out fully.  Do not interrupt.  Let them rant and rave until they were done.  This was based on the premise that half the job was solved when they felt they were fully heard.

Only murmurs of sorrow about the problem were to be interjected here and there.

It went on from there.  Would they please, please put this terrible travesty in writing so the proper channels could be contacted?

We want to help and we need all the ammunition they can give us.

This also seemed to dispel some of the complaint.  Most of them would do this if convinced it would help.

By the time the conversation was over, these people were in love with us.  Finally, someone understood.  Someone cared.

They did not always get what they wanted, by the way, but a lot of anger was dissipated along the way.

I am telling you – this technique works.

It was the best training I ever got and I taught it in all my sales courses and my students came back and reported that it worked for them too.

An aside –

After the three months of training, we were finally ready to take our “first call.”  Nobody slept that night.  It was a huge deal.

A supervisor was plugged into the side of your desk so she could monitor it.  Every one of us was shaking.

My first call was written up in all the house magazines which went to employees of the New York Telephone Company.

It was from Macy’s.

It was Christmastime and they were bringing Santa Claus into the store on an elephant.

The elephant was trapped by a row of telephone booths and could not get through.  He was standing on his hind legs and snorting and Santa Claus was crying.

They needed a crew to move the booths. NOW.

I started to say, “Oh, I am so sorry that –“when my supervisor grabbed the call away from me.

It was one time when just being sorry – even with the best “tone” could not solve the complaint.




This is an excerpt from


For Paperback or Kindle edition



Related Posts with Thumbnails
26 Flares Twitter 9 Facebook 12 Google+ 5 Pin It Share 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- Buffer 0 StumbleUpon 0 26 Flares ×

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew from Need a blog
March 21, 2013 at 1:52 am


I like to think I listen and respond to my customers concerns / issues. However (another word for ‘but) I know sometimes I get it wrong.

Listen, count to 10, breathe and respond.

Andrew recently posted..8 Reasons Why You Need A BlogMy Profile


Corinne Edwards
March 21, 2013 at 6:27 am

Dear Andrew –

When people get started with a complaint, you are going to have to count until 100 –

until they take a breath and shut up.

Good luck with counting only until 10
Corinne Edwards recently posted..THE BLAHS – BUSINESS BURNOUT – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths -on AmazonMy Profile


Aayna from wholesale rug suppliers March 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

A great post!! It carried the reality bites with it. It is of great importance to respond to the complaints of the customers for a healthy customer relationship. Thanks for the share.
Aayna recently posted..How To Use The Quick Access Toolbar in Excel 2013My Profile


Corinne Edwards
March 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

Dear Alok –

Thanks. If you liked the post, read the book. It is a different kind of sales book

Come back soon.
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Corinne Edwards
March 24, 2013 at 8:47 am

Dear Aanya –

Thanks for coming back. If you liked this post you will love the book.
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Vianney March 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I worked at a call center for so long that I’ve heard every complaint in the book. At the end of the day, they’re upset about the product and not at you per se; it’s just a matter of knowing how to handle the complaint.


Corinne Edwards
March 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

That was my main job when I worked as a 21 year old at the telephone company.

It was the best training of my whole life.

They really taught us about public service. A lot of it has been lost these days.
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Arianne March 25, 2013 at 3:12 am

Wherever you go, whatever you do; there will always be bad feedback no matter how hard we try. At the end of the day, we can never please everyone.
Arianne recently posted..Link Building Techniques You Should AvoidMy Profile


Corinne Edwards
March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Dear Arianne –

It is hard to please everyone. Sometime the person they are mad at is not even us.

But we can help
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Fatima from microsoft powerpoint 2013 training March 25, 2013 at 4:42 am

Complaints from clients actually help us improve what we are lacking at. The way we respond to their complaints imprints that special image we want our clients to have of us; so we have to be very careful about that.


Corinne Edwards
March 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Wise words, Fatima.

Complaints help us tune up our reactions not only to clients but in our personal relationships.

We do a lot to improve by listening and really hearing the other person fully.
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Kristine from Landscape designers March 29, 2013 at 12:58 am

You always update your readers with the new books that you encounter, and you never forget to share everything you know about something. Admire you for that. So thank you, and I hope you’ll keep writing.
Kristine recently posted..Inspiration for two landscape designers at the Rainforest RetreatMy Profile


March 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Been six yeas, Kristine. I plan to keep on keeping on. Please come with me on our journeys. Share with us too.


Corinne Edwards
March 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm

The tide seems to have turned lately, Sandra. Have you noticed?

More help lines are more helpful and gracious and so willing to do that extra mile.

Microsoft and Norton especially. Have gotten such remarkable and willing service from them lately.

There is nothing too difficult to tackle and they will stay with you until your problem is solved.

For a seious non tech like me, it is comforting and satisfying.
Corinne Edwards recently posted..COMPLAINTS – from Sales, Lies and Naked Truths – on AmazonMy Profile


Stacey from florist surry hills March 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Complaints are a part of life. It’s one of the most important catalyst in order for a person or a team to improve. Thank you kindly for your every blog post Corinne.


Kelly from 24 hour emergency vet March 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

You got it right off the mark Corrine. Listening to a litany of complaints is winning half the battle. I once worked on a call center and most of the time, all that the customers want is to have someone who will listen with empathy; someone who will validate their anger and complaints.


Corinne Edwards
April 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Dear Sandra –

I agree.

If you are polite and ask for assistance, I have found that most help lines are more than willing to tackle a “close to impossible” intervention.

I think if we approach these help lines without being demanding and insulting, they are more than willing to take the time to solve any problem.

I especially want to compliment Norton and Microsoft for going out of their way to help – and with no cost.

Politeness and gratitude goes a long way with every problem we encounter.


Wendy from Counselling Surrey
May 10, 2013 at 2:28 am

In my experience ‘being heard’ is the most important thing. If we feel someone is actually taking the time to find out what we are trying to convey, complaints and issues get resolved much more quickly.

Wendy recently posted..10 tips to reduce StressMy Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: