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Start of a session


Hi Guys,

I am trying to think of some new ways to start a training session on complaints training for my organisation.

I don't want to use the word "icebreaker" ( especially after the comments on the previous Bad Words thread :) )

but need to get the group thinking about complaints, how to recognise them, manage them and resolve issues.

I already use an activity where the delegates get into groups and discuss bad experiences they have had and organisations they have had to complain about in their personal life i.e. trains, mobile phone provider, energy provider and then they can write these on flipchart, and then present back to the group including whether their complaint was resolved and if they would do business with that organisation again.

Has anyone got any other ideas?

If it helps I work in Employee Benefits and the training will be concerning written and verbal complaints handling

Thanks in advance


5 Responses

  1. Negatives into positives

    Have them list out not bad experiences but "how to give bad customer service". Simply ask them to list the most important things that you could do to really irritate your customer and give the worst customer service possible.

    This way they are not restricted simply to actual experiences of bad customer service  but can gather bad items from all sorts of customer service interactions. They can come up with the monster scenario. And it may still end up as eerily familiar!

    Once they have presented back their monster have it cut down to size by swapping with another team and thinking up all the ways that the customer service could have been as much the exact opposite as they can think about.

    Given your scenario, if you have sufficient people you could have four groups, two looking at a verbal complaint communications and two looking at written complaint communications and then swap verbal with written.

  2. a complaint is a gift…..

    Hi Hels

    you can make an event out of the concept of a complaint as a gift…..

    someone complains because they aren’t happy BUT they still have some faith that YOU care enough to do something about it (if they didn’t have that faith they wouldn’t complain, they’d bad-mouth you to every one they know)

    so when someone compains, treat it as a gift; they have given you a chance to put it right, to learn and they have put faith in you.

    What do most people do when they are given a gift?

    …..they say thanks, they open it in front of people, they use it.


    what do most people do when they receive a complaint?

    ….they look miserable, they get defensive, they drag their feet, they make excuses and they bury it as fast as possible…… but if you do this your customers stop compaining and start voting with their feet; you fail.


    I’m sure you can make something out of that!


  3. Survey of customer issues


    Please find attached a link to a survey I conducted with customers to get their opinions on customer service issues. You can lift this information and use it as a discussion topic with your class or use the 20 questions given to survey your own company’s customers and get meaningful findings for your business. To advise my survey was not industry or country specific.

    Hope you find it useful.



  4. Start of a Session

    Hello Hels,

    what about a little fun in the form of a reverse brainstorm, ask the group "what would we be doing if we really wanted to alienate, annoy, irritate, our customers"? Then reverse that and ask the group to consider how many of their ideas are close to the truth and what suggestions do they (people & process)  have to overcome the issues and perceptions.


  5. Think Differently

    Hi Hels,

    I recommend a great activity (I use it so much) called ‘Think differently’. Basically, you ask delegates to think about complaints from lots of different angles by asking them to complete lots of different sentences about complaints.

    Download a sample handout that explains it a bit more from here (just scroll down until you find it).

    Alternatively, you could use picture cards e.g. CCS cards. Ask delegates to pick out cards that represent what complaints feel like to them, to the customer, what’s good about them, what’s hard about them etc. Using pictures keeps it more general, and stops them getting fixated on details or specific cases.

    Have fun!

    Sheridan Webb

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