Managing customers well is important for organisations and businesses and will result in long-term loyal customers. If not done right, businesses can lose customers and risk being bad-mouthed, which will impact business adversely.

To deliver great service experiences, organisations need to manage their service teams well and get them to deliver more value to their customers. They need to strengthen the weakest links and forge a service-oriented team culture.

Business leaders need to coach their service teams on key areas to focus on how to prevent customer complaints, and to handle them professionally when they cannot be avoided.

Here are strategies you can adopt to effectively manage both service teams and complaints.

Managing service teams

Forge a service-oriented team culture

Here are some ways for a customer service manager to create a conducive culture within the team:

•  Formulate and implement a service pledge to customers;

• Recruit employees who love to smile and serve customers;

• Emphasise the importance of customer service in the organisation;

• Recognise and reward outstanding customer service frontline staff;

• Share best practices in customer service with the team; and

• Get feedback and suggestions for service improvement.

Apply “Emergenetics” to improve customer service

Emergenetics is a psychometric profiling tool in thinking and behaviour from the United States. Here are four thinking attributes that can help serve different customers better:

Analytical thinking: This approach is logical, rational and intellectual. Some customers think critically about a purchase before committing to any decision. Customer service staff need to present information to them in a logical and rational manner.

Structural thinking: Customers who are structural thinkers are practical and careful, pay great attention to detail and love information in sequence. To serve them well, service staff need to provide clear information about the company’s products and services.

Social thinking: Customers with this preference put a premium on social awareness and their interactions with people. They like to build relationships and connections. Service staff need to spend time building and strengthening the company’s relationships with them.

Conceptual thinking: Imaginative and visionary customers see the big picture, the long-term view and the unusual. Service staff need to constantly surprise them with unique promotions and offerings.

Managing complaints

When customers complain, it gives businesses the opportunity to fix the problem. Customers who complain are giving you a chance to keep their business, so addressing their complaints correctly is of the utmost importance.

Below are some of the common mistakes that service managers, supervisors and frontline staff commit in handling complaints:

•  Ignore the complaint;

•  Become defensive and blame others;

•  Belittle the complainer; and

•  Justify the complaint.

Doing these will only make the situation worse. Avoiding them must be a priority with service managers, supervisors and frontline staff.

Adopt the right approach

Service staff should bear in mind that the complaint is usually not against them personally. Here are the proper approaches to adopt when addressing complaints:

•  Admit the service lapse;

•  Apologise;

•  Explain the situation positively; and

•  Carry out a service recovery.

Service managers and supervisors need to coach their frontliners on how to handle customer complaints professionally so that they can resolve situations effectively.


Article by Ken Wong, 4G leadership and service coach with ProActive Training & Education. He is the author of the upcoming book, The Enlightened ProActive Manager — Getting The Best Out Of Yourself And Your Team. To contact Ken, visit or e-mail Cheryl at