How These CEO’s Respond to Customer Complaints

CEO’s don’t often respond to customer complaints, but when they do they had better address the problem quickly, thoughtfully, and effectively as the way they deal with the problem is a reflection on the company as a whole.

From Drexler to Jobs to Musk, here’s how these CEO’s dealt with customer complaints, according to a BigSpeak article:

Steve Jobs, Apple

Reportedly, after buying a 15-inch MacBook Pro and a 22-inch monitor, a man named Aaron Booker was surprised to find out that he wasn’t eligible for a discount on AppleCare because he hadn’t bought another similarly priced computer. Booker emailed Steve Jobs directly (then:, explaining the issue, and received a short but definitive affirmation from Jobs: “We’ll fix this.” The next day Booker says he “got a call from one of Steve’s assistants and the problem was solved.”

Mickey Drexler, J. Crew   

After receiving a J. Crew coupon in the mail, Mike Beaulieu went down to the store and picked something out. But when tried to use the coupon at the register the sales associate wouldn’t accept it, even suggesting that it was a forgery. When he got home, he emailed J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler about the incident and got a response within 15 minutes: “Terrible on our part! No excuses. My apologies! We will be in touch. Best, Mickey.”

Elon Musk, Tesla

As we wrote about in a previous Business101 article, Lois Le Meur wanted to charge his Tesla but arrived to find all the charging stations full of idle cars. So he took to Twitter to reach the Tesla CEO directly:   

Just six days later Tesla announced the following policy on its website: We designed the Supercharger network to enable a seamless, enjoyable road trip experience. Therefore, we understand that it can be frustrating to arrive at a station only to discover fully charged Tesla cars occupying all the spots. To create a better experience for all owners, we’re introducing a fleet-wide idle fee that aims to increase Supercharger availability.

The announcement informed Tesla owners that the company’s app will alert them once their car’s charge is almost complete, and that “For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee.” The fee is then waived if the car is moved within five minutes.

That these CEO’s have successfully figured out is that negative customer feedback is actually a great tool for growth. It provides insight into what’s working with the product or service and what’s not. It’s also an opportunity to build a deeper, more meaningful relationship with a customer. If you embrace customer feedback, listen to the customer, solve the problem, and follow up, you’ll be well on your way to responding to customer complaints and gaining valuable feedback from them like these CEO’s.


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