Does the DRM apply to business conversations? Yes, because all businesses are based on relationships. Even if you are a sole trader who only sells products online, you still have a relationship with your customers. And, wherever there are relationships there will be, to varying degrees of intensity, conflict. If that conflict is with a customer, it will most likely generate a complaint. With Social Media and Review Sites as popular sources of information (in one study 86% of respondents indicated that their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews), how we handle complaints is important.

When a business chooses to use the DRM they will take a 7 step approach to complain handling:

  1. Read and re-read. Breathe. Allow yourself to feel upset, embarrassed or outraged by the content.
  2. Write a short highly reactive response that you would not enjoy receiving. Read it. Laugh at it and then DELETE it. Make sure you don’t write it anywhere that you could accidentally hit send.
  3. Once you have that out of your system, look at the complaint and find the gift of the opportunity to connect with another human being.
  4. Write something that acknowledges and recognises the time taken to make the complaint and explain how you intend to handle it, the time it will take and when you will get back to them.
  5. As you follow through, try to understand what the customer is trying to get you to hear about their experience. Read past any derogatory, sarcastic or offensive content.
  6. If you need to take responsibility do so with good grace. If you disagree that there is anything to complain about offer mediation or a facilitated conversation.
  7. If you can’t do the first 6 steps from a calm and caring place, get support before doing anything.

Names have been changed.



When Sarah, a business owner, tried this approach, she wrote to me with the following feedback, “It was great to write a reactive response and read it back to myself. It was actually really funny. Having changed my mood around the complaint I was able to see it from their point of view and connect with their experience. They were so happy with my response and my suggested remedy that they asked me to come back and gave me more work.

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