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Many years ago, one of those big Japanese auto manufacturers commissioned a noted BBB executive to conduct a research project on the economic effect of various corporate responses modes to customer complaints. Turned out that the more sympathetic and rapid the initial response to the gripe, the higher the repurchase metric. A fast positive emotional reflection and instant resolution or upwards escalation (REGARDLESS of whether the outcome was favorable to the complainer), the more likely the dissatisfied customer was to buy another product from the firm.

They modified their procedures accordingly and literally converted their complaint department into a profit center.

"Oh, that is terrible! I'm so sorry ... but no can do," won more favorable association than vague promises followed by hours or weeks of process delay before a small rebate or even a complete refund was granted.

There is a lesson here for TR professionals.

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