Runners Who Complain Are Really The Kind You Want!

24 07 2009

Those who do not complain are never pitied Jane Austen (British Novelist and Writer, 17751817)


Once in my lifetime, I do have the opportunity working as a Restaurant Manager for almost ten years in one of the leading fast food chain here in our native land. It was a wonderful experience specially the training on how to handle customer complaints. I was trained to delight the customers all of the times, providing them with the best quality food, excellent service and cleanliness because without those customers, business will not grow-small profit-company’s bankruptcy- leading that in eventually loosing my job in the process. So the Management values the customers so much, treating them as ‘king.’

However, since complaints were inevitable, we should welcome complaints and make it easy for customers to provide feedback. After all, customers who take the time to complain still have some confidence in the organization. Although they may be complaining, at least they are still talking to you. Those who complain are exhibiting a degree of loyalty and a genuine desire to get their problem fixed.

Furthermore, of those who do complain, 56 to 70 per cent will do business with your company again if the complaint is resolved. That goes up to 96 per cent if the complaint is resolved quickly!

Research also shows that customers who have never had a problem with a company are less loyal than those who have had problems successfully resolved. So unhappy customers who complain and have their problems resolved may become your best customers. They are more likely to tell others how pleased they are that their complaint was addressed. And, if the problem is resolved satisfactorily, they will tell even more people about it than if they had received good service in the first place!

Complaining used to be a private matter. Not anymore. Today’s irate customers may very well broadcast their concerns over the Internet, informing millions of people.

Companies looking to improve service recovery need to start by changing their attitudes. Customer gripes must be viewed as valuable feedback. Complaints are one of the most available, yet underutilized, sources of marketing information.

You can’t stop customers from defecting if you never hear about their problems. Giving customers a way to complain can represent a golden opportunity. Listening and responding appropriately minimizes the damage unhappy customers can create for your business. The average upset customer tells nine people. One in five tells more than 20 people.

How often have you been disappointed with a product or service and complained about it? TARP (Technical Assistance Research Programs), a U.S. group which focuses on complaining customers, found that 26 out of 27 people who experience problems do not complain.

Companies that mistakenly interpret silent customers as satisfied customers are in for a rude awakening. TARP Studies show that only 4% of customers complain. Most just go away angry and simply stop doing business with you.

British Airways is a notable example of an organization that has encouraged customer feedback. By installing video booths at Heathrow Airport, it gave angry customers an easy way to sound off. The taped complaints were sent to top management, giving them an unfiltered glimpse into passenger frustration. Their focus on responding to customer complaints paid off. It shed its “bloody awful” image and has become known as one of the best airlines in the world.

Service recovery does not happen automatically. Companies need to establish procedures and train staff so that everyone in the organization knows how to handle complaints. Here are some suggestions that may help your company recover from situations where customer expectations have not been met.

  • Thank customers for taking the time to complain. Explain that you appreciate hearing from them because it gives you the opportunity to take corrective action.
  • Take time to hear out customers, giving them a chance to vent. You need to ensure you understand all their concerns. Show empathy. Never minimize the situation, as this will only make customers even more enraged.
  • It is important to apologize to customers, but wait until you understand their concerns first. Otherwise your apology may sound hollow.
  • Ask customers what they would like you to do. They will usually want less than you think. It is estimated that fewer than two per cent of customers will systematically try to cheat you. Even if you do meet with a dishonest customer, the goodwill you build fixing the problem is probably worth more than the cost of a replacement product or the value of the service.
  • Take responsibility for solving the problem. Don’t pass the complaint off to another department to handle. The customer brought the complaint to you. Stay in the loop until it is resolved.
  • Effectively overcome the problem.
  • Follow up to ensure customers are satisfied. If you ask customers directly if they are happy with your solution, chances are they will buy from you again. If appropriate, you might thank them again for bringing the matter to your attention and let them know how your organization will try to prevent future occurrences.

-Shirley Lichti for The Record, January 13, 1999

What is my point here?

What is true to service-oriented business applies also in running community specially, in Organizing Racing Events.

When they’re receiving enormous feedbacks, my tips for the Organizer is to follow the British Airways Simple Rules in Handling Complaints, just omit ‘customers’ and replace it with the word ‘runner.’

And in response to some blogs,..I’m not riding in this issue! It so happened that my group and I also joined some of those races, I’m only speaking based on our experiences.

As your customer, I do have the right to give feedback and raise my concerns, be it good or bad. I maybe critical at times, but rest assured that I’ll do it constructively.

Let’s build bridges rather than walls!

Remember, runners who take time to complain want to make things better.

Are you listening?

LIFE IN A NUTSHELL: If I could wrap all my father’s counsel into one sentence, it would be ‘Get with it, son.’ -Lorne Sanny of the Navigators




30 responses

24 07 2009
runningshield - patrick concepcion

I have a bad ham injury so I couldn’t join the race. Ha ha.
I don’t want to criticize but rather just get the good and bad points and from this use it further improve race events.
But all I Have to say is…..Don’t forget the “Joy and Love of Running, Running is what makes us different from others
“If there was no races in the Philippines would you still run???…..I would.

24 07 2009

ka ronnie, customer is king.i am in the business of serving people as well and i have no choice but to give in to their legit concerns.

24 07 2009

a “complain” must be taken as an opportunity to improve and come up to be the best in their trade or business. nice post, ronnie!

24 07 2009

i mean, “complaint”.

24 07 2009

Hi Ronnie. Great post.

For the last five and a half years at a running specialty store, I heard complaints on a daily basis. I smiled to each and every customer and did my utmost to make things better during that visit and for their visit the next time. Though in most cases, it wasn’t our fault, we were told the day we were hired that the customer is always right! Because of my desire to be a good worker, and have good customer clientel, I had the highest customer return visits in the history of the company. It would have been very easy to complain about the complainers but I chose the more positive way and wanted it to be better for our store.

Unfortunately, some employees and eventually, the owner of the company, weren’t on the same page which is why I’m unemployed today! It wasn’t because of the economy (which has been used as an excuse time and time again) but it was because some people had bigger heads than they should have had.

From reading Jonel and Baldrunner’s posts, I can more than understand where they’re coming from. Mine was a reaction of several e-mails and blogs. The post wasn’t to criticize Finishline but in actuality, to help them. Unfortunately, I now seem to be looked at differently either from no responses on my blog to indirect comments being made on other blogs. Once again, I can accept that type of criticism and choose a more positive way which is making friendships stronger. However, it takes more than myself on that issue.

25 07 2009

nice post sir ronnie. and very timely too. people who paid for a service just wants their money’s worth. and they complain/give feedbacks to correct or improve a mistake and not to show malice or ill-intentions. we just have to show humility and patience when giving or accepting feedbacks to and from other people. god bless.

25 07 2009
Crown of Beauty

I read this post with much interest. It is very well written, and the points are clear. You have expressed the heart of the matter very well.

Usually the ones complaining just want to know they have value and are important to the human race. When we do not address their complaint, we are giving them the message that they do not matter one bit.

Good post, and thank you for taking time to write it. I must say that your experience has paid off. You can apply what you have learned to many other areas in life.

God bless,

25 07 2009

.At pinasok mong mag organize ng race, dapat ready ka sa mga criticisms at wag kang balat sibuyas! Wag ka ring defensive at kukuha ka pa ng nga kakampi mo at gagamit ng kung sino sino. Ikaw mismo ang magpaliwanag kung bakit pumalpak ang race mo. Marami ka ng mga patakbo, until now di ka pa rin natututo.

Bakit naman ang sa mga races ng Milo, New Balance, Condura, Adidas…wala tayong nararanasang mga ganan? Bakit lagi na lang sa kanya?

Akoy nalulungkot dahil hindi ipinost ni Jay (prometheuscometh)ang mga feedbacks ko, bagkus itoy kanyang dinelete. Sabagay friend nya un kaya ganun siguro.
Kung dinelete nya ang mga feedbacks ko, sana lang delete nya lahat para fair! Pero ung bira kay BR, di nya tinangal.

Sana lang wag silang masasaktan if nagpi feedback tayo. If ayaw nilang mapid backan ng di maganda, ayusan nila at kung di nila kaya, wag na silang mag organize! Sinasayang lang natin ang ating mga pinaghirapang pera, tapos madidismaya lang tayo. Hindi na nga tayo tinatratong mga king and queen, ginagawa pa tayong mga clowns.Tumakbo na lang tayo kanya kanya kahit walang race.

Salamat ka Ronnie at sanay wag mong idi delete to.

25 07 2009
Amado L. Castro, Jr.

Dear Ronnie – Great post and a lot of wisdom. This is like a bible of any service oriented industry with quality management foundation. Must be read with an open heart and an open mind.

25 07 2009
othan sacro

We have a saying that, “Open rebuke is better than secret love…” Well explained and good post Ronnie.

25 07 2009
eddie paraducho

Good points! We need this rude awakening…and hoping that ‘Organizer’ will change his ways and attitude…

25 07 2009
frenzy catajan

Reading the thread on the other’s blog, I admire BR more for this, he said sorry even though it’s not his mistakes…but that ‘Organizer’ still is nowhere to be found… And yes, all of his friends were there to defend him. How sad! How will he grow if they will tolerate him???

Nice post Mr. Ronnie….an eye opener for them.

25 07 2009
Mr. Brusko Barumbado

Scot Jurek…I admire you guy for your boldness.

There should be no ‘friend’ for this and defending the Organizer even for his many shortcomings is not healthy.

Basta kami dito sa Cavite, hindi na kami tatakbo sa mga race Nya! Registration fee too expensive, but the service is poor!

25 07 2009
Wally E.

Meron po kaming natakbuhan na patakbo nya, sabi may sandals daw sa first 100 finishers..fortunately, kasama po ako at nung ako’y nakapila na ng matagal, biglang inanunsyo na ‘ubos na daw’, daming nagalit at may mga balibalita na ung mga sandals daw ay nakareserve na sa mga kaibigan nya kahit hindi kasali sa top 100.

galing pa po ako ng Batangas at new runner pa lang nun, nadala na po ako kaya hindi na po ako nasali sa mga race. Hindi po ako tumakbo para sa sandals pero masarap sanang maguwi ng galing sa pinaghirapang takbuhan, ngunit yun pala’y maling pangako lamang…

25 07 2009
Harry C.

Hi Sir Ronnie…

In one of his races, I happened to be included in the top 20 and I’m expecting a nice commemorative t-shirt as announced for the top 100. As I stood there in the long line for about 5 minutes, we were disappointed when the announcement was made that ‘tshirt’ was no longer available.

Since I do not run for the novelties or anything else, it’s just okay for me. But I pitied those in front of me who were just ‘plain and simple runners’. You can see their disappointments.

As bold as I am, I approached this Organizer in his very athletic stand just to plea the case of those in front of me, not even for myself. But he snubbed me! I called his name loudly but he just walked away, as though he was not seeing me. What an attitude! He had seen that there was chaos already in that long queue of line and yet, he disappeared!

Since then, we here in Navotas and my small group no longer joined his races.
We are not saying you do the same thing, but you must take your own risk when joining his races. Novelties and freebies were just small thing, but dont give false promises when you can’t deliver it.

God bless you po.

25 07 2009

Hi Wayne…we runners are the customer of the Organizer. Without us, there will be no racing events that can happen. That’s why we should not protect or defend someone. Our loyalty must be in ‘running’ not to anyone else. God bless you.

25 07 2009

Aha classmate, nice to hear from you again. And you’re right…thanks for visiting.

25 07 2009

Thank you sister Lidia for the comment. Experience is the best teacher. We can only share what we knew. God bless.

25 07 2009

Hi scot…I don’t have the right to delete or moderate your comment. You came in here and you’re welcome. This blog will not show partiality to anyone. Thanks for the visit. God bless.

25 07 2009

salamat po sir Amado for the comment. I’m trying to help in my own little way but I know some will object still. God bless you and your family.

25 07 2009

Hi othan…that verse I think comes from the book of Proverbs? thanks for the visit.

25 07 2009

Hi eddie, either he will change or not, that doesn’t matter for me. let’s continue running, even if there’s no more races! God bless po.

25 07 2009

BR is a true gentleman. I feel sorry for those who can’t say the word ‘sorry’. I don’t think his friends are defending him…it’s such that, they’re just citing some of his accomplishments. God bless you po.

25 07 2009

Hi Mr. Brusko Barumbado, what a lovely name hahaha…joke! That’s you opinion po. Sana tumakbo pa din kayo, malay po natin marami ng imrovements. Ako po baka tumakbo sa QC nya, kita na lang tayo dun. God bless.

25 07 2009

Hi Wally E….I was there too and maybe we rubbed elbows at that long queue…is that the Great UP Run? Let’s still support races. Let’s not kill our love for this sports. Rest assured, I’m here in my own little way to protect it. God bless.

26 07 2009

Hi Harry C… is that the PTAA Run? My buddies too ranked 11th and 65th, do not received theirs. I empathized with those you’ve mentioned. While we do not run for freebies, It’s a nice a feeling to receive them specially while you did it in the qualifying time. Those who said it’s immaterial were missing the point.

Thanks for the visit po. God bless you.

26 07 2009

S’ Jovie…that’s very true…. God bless.

26 07 2009

jonel…and we are the customer of the organizer. God bless bro.

26 07 2009

S’ Patrick…I say yes too. With or without races, I will survive…basta sa Condura next year, I and my group will surely join. God bless you and your family.

26 07 2009
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