Andrew Minty: How to turn a member’s complaint into a positive

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu February 4, 2018 10:08 Updated

The director of golf at Langland Bay GC, and both the youngest ever PGA director of golf and the youngest GCMA ‘Manager of the Year’, details how to turn a member’s complaint into a positive

One of a manager’s worst moments has to be a member’s complaint. How to stay professional without taking it personally; how to be fair but at the same time listen to the member and give them a reasonable, achievable reply.

A relationship between management and members cannot be achieved without listening. As managers, when we listen well, not only are we showing others that we possess great communication skills, but we are also showing excellent service by the respect conveyed through a listening ear. Whilst it’s only natural to get defensive when a member is criticising your golf club, service or you(!), you can potentially convert that member into a loyal devotee.

No question, some problems are more difficult than others to fix, sometimes you can’t undo the problem, but you can always find a way to make it up to the member. The degree to which you do so will go a long way towards converting your unhappy member into your most vocal advocate. Most members will accept the occasional human or system error. How you and your golf club responds to these errors is what distinguishes you from your competitors. It’s easier than ever for members / customers to publicly share their experiences, and the way you respond to unhappy customers will determine what they say about you afterwards.

The key for me, based on my experiences, is to apologise immediately and sincerely. There’s no purpose in trying to determine whether the golf club or the customer is at fault at this stage. Just assume for a minute that you are in the wrong. Your member will appreciate that someone cares.

Overcome the temptation to point the finger at someone else, even if it was the greenkeeper, golf staff or caterer who caused the complaint, stay as a team. Finger pointing will only make you look unprofessional in front of the member. When a resolution has been reached, thank them for bringing it to your attention. While negative feedback can be frustrating, use it as a learning experience rather than a reason to panic. Defusing dissatisfied members is a learned business skill that will help you deliver the best service possible. Work together to find a solution that pleases you and the member. A complaint doesn’t make you a bad manager. How you handle the problem is the real test of your abilities.

Andrew Minty

Stay professional. Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.

PGA Fellow Professional Andrew Minty achieved the director of golf qualification in 2008 aged just 28. He joined Langland Bay Golf Club in Wales in 2010. In 2013 the club was named the Golf Union of Wales’ ‘Golf Club of the Year’ and in 2015 he was named the GCMA’s ‘Manager of the Year’.


Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu February 4, 2018 10:08 Updated
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