We Just Got a Complaint!
January 25, 2013
By John Frost,
Goodratings Strategic Service
That one sentence changes the conversation.
Whether its the receptionist informing you of a listener on the line, an air talent walking into the PD's office, or a salesperson conveying something they've heard on the street, "We just got a complaint!" stops all traffic. It will get more attention than standing on an ant bed.
The tendency is to immediately zone in on whatever has been said, inadvertently elevating that complaint to the most important programming element on the station. Don't believe me? Just try to discuss any other element of programming after a specific complaint comes in.
Successful stations develop of culture of celebrating complaints. Complaints indicate people care.
- Listen carefully to complaints and thank them for going to the trouble of reaching out to you. Mean it, because they have.
- Resist the natural impulse to defend or debate. They want to be heard and have their concerns validated above all else. After all, they are NOT wrong---they know what they'd prefer you do.
- Do nothing and do it immediately.
- Evaluate the complaint based whether it is in alignment with your station's strategy. (If they hate it when you play Christmas music, they are not likely considering how it may double your audience and help to broaden your impact in the community.)
- Consider if you were to do what your listener suggests, would that make your station more successful with your existing programming strategy? Never adjust your strategy based upon anecdotal feedback.
Seth Godin is right. "When people care about a brand or a cause or an idea, it's likely that have other things in common. And the caring causes them to invest attention. Once they've done that, they can't help but notice that others don't see things the way they do. We ignore the great unwashed and reserve our disdain for those like us, that care like us, but don't see things as we do."
The really good news is that the tribe cares. If you don't have that, you've got nothing of value. In fact, the squabbling among people who care is the first sign you're on to something."