I always feel awkward when I have a bad meal in a restaurant and the server asks, “How’s everything?” I get the feeling that the question is no more sincere than the telemarketer who asks “How are you today?” It’s just polite talk. They don’t really want or care about the answer.

I never complain, but on a couple of occasions, we were out to dinner with other couples who did complain.

The first time, when the restaurant manager asked our friend SH “How’s your steak?” and SH said it wasn’t good, the manager argued: “Our steaks are great. How dare you insult my food!”

Another time, when the maitre d’ asked my friend DY if everything was okay, DY replied, “The food was good, but the service was glacial (meaning slow).” Instead of apologizing, the maitre d’ angrily said to all of us, “Please don’t come back here again!”

In both cases, I wondered, “If he didn’t want to hear the real answer, why did he ask in the first place?”

Do YOU regularly ask your customers or clients whether they are satisfied with your products and services? If you do, and they complain, do you really listen? Do you respond politely and helpfully and offer to make things right? Or, like the maitre d’ who told us never to come back, do you become angry and resentful? And is your anger obvious to your customers?

A few suggestions for handling dissatisfied customers:

• Give them a refund – even if they didn’t ask for it, even if the guarantee has expired.

• Apologize. Express regret that their experience wasn’t excellent.

• Ask them what they didn’t like.

• Give them a small free gift as compensation.

[Ed. Note: Tell us how YOU handle customer complaints right here.

To learn more marketing secrets from freelance copywriter and marketing expert Bob Bly, sign up for his free e-zine, the Direct Response Letter. Do so today and get $116 in FREE bonuses.]

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Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.

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