Why customer complaints can be a great thing for your business
Customer complaints can be viewed and handled in two ways. The first is reactively – this customer is unhappy, let’s resolve their problem, give them a refund or a replacement item, and send them on their way. Many customer complaints are handled in exactly this way.
However, the second way of dealing with customer complaints is far more viable as a long-term strategy for your business, namely proactively. When customer complaints are viewed as a learning opportunity and as a chance to make your company better, this is a much more forward-looking strategy.
Why should customer complaints be taken seriously?
With the Internet at their fingertips, today’s customers have more power than ever before in the commercial world. A happy and satisfied customer will likely say so on the Internet and by word of mouth. An unhappy customer will do likewise!
According to Esteban Kolsky, the founder of the customer strategies thinktank ThinkJar, only 1 in 25 customers will complain directly to you. However, as many as 13% of dissatisfied customers will share the details of their dissatisfaction with a further 15 or even more people. This is not the kind of publicity you are looking for to enhance your company’s image.
Why should a customer complaint be analysed?
When you get a customer complaint, these are some of the questions that you should be asking yourself as the complaint could be highlighting problem areas some of departments, or some of your business procedures or strategies that you will want to improve or address:
- Has this kind of complaint been received before?
- If it has been, how often have complaints of this nature been received?
- Have all the complaints been recorded and duly acted upon?
- Is there a pattern to these kinds of complaints?
- In which department or in which procedure did the complaint originate?
- Is the complaint connected to a particular product, service, or procedure?
- Has this particular customer complained before?
By analysing complaints in this way, you are already taking the steps necessary to (a) learn from the complaint, and (b) prevent similar complaints recurring over and over.
So why are customer complaints such a great thing for your business?
1. They shine a spotlight on problems you can fix
In business terms, ignorance is never bliss, and can spell potential disaster. Any business with an eye on thriving long-term growth wants to know where there are problems so that they can be rectified.
Customer complaints highlight problems and are therefore invaluable in helping improve services, products, or customer relations. For example, implementing a live chat service on your website to help address common questions you receive from customers may in turn help you generate more leads.
2. They help you to understand your customers better
When your customers complain, they are telling you in no uncertain terms what they regard as important and what business values and practices they expect from you. By actively taking their feedback on board and tailoring your procedures, interactions, services and strategies to suit them, you improve your chances significantly to make them feel valued, appreciated and acknowledged. And remember, a happy customer is one who comes back again, and promotes your business both online and by word-of-mouth.
3. They enable you to build customer loyalty by showing you care
Customer complaints give you a chance to shine! The way your business deals with customers’ complaints will show the true colours of your business. It will announce your business ethos, and your customers will receive this message loud and clear.
When a customer complains, they are in essence giving you a golden opportunity to not just fix their current problem, but in doing so also regain their trust and cement their loyalty for the future. If you do a really good job, you may even be able to turn a complaint into an opportunity to upsell the customer.
4. They show you where your policies and procedures need improving
Customer complaints are invaluable in highlighting areas in your policies and procedures that need streamlining or updating because they may be inefficient or out of date.
5. They help you improve communication with your customers
Dealing with customer complaints offers opportunities to make your customers feel that they are valued as an intrinsic part of your success as a business. It also allows you to have frank discussions with them, and obtain valuable feedback about pain points, bottlenecks, or problems with a product.
6. They help you get information about your competitors
Any opportunity to get information about your competitors is to your advantage. So if a customer says to you, ‘but Company So-and-So offered me a full refund, instead of just a credit voucher’ you need to take that onboard and assess whether your own policy needs adjustment. Customer complaints can offer valuable insights into developments in the marketplace, and strategies that your competitors are employing.
7. They can help you pinpoint where your customer service may be lacking
The importance of top-notch customer care is being recognised more and more these days. Customer complaints throw light on areas where your customer service may not be up to scratch. It may indicate where your customer agent training may be lacking or possibly outdated. Do your agents need refresher courses, or do they need to be empowered to deal with customer complaints more dynamically and effectively?
8. They can serve to motivate positive change towards a more customer-centric culture
If properly leveraged, customer complaints and the insights gained from analysing them, can serve as powerful catalysts for positive change not just at corporate level, but throughout the entire business. As insights and ideals of customer service are shared throughout the organisation, all staff members can be motivated to strive towards better customer service.
9. They may highlight possible new business opportunities
Customer complaints may make you aware of new business opportunities. In your own organisation, they may likewise draw your attention to where you may expand your market, or where you can reduce operational costs by streamlining.
10. They help you improve the way your business handles customer complaints
This may sound self-evident, but it’s important to point out that customer complaints are unavoidable. The issue here is the proactive aspect in that you see customer complaints and dealing with them as a learning tool to the benefit of your business. And the more you do it, the better and your team will get at doing it!
Remember, the way you handle a customer complaint will almost certainly make the difference between retaining that customer or losing them. If you approach each customer complaint as a chance to make your business better and improve the quality of your service, your customers will reward you by coming back and giving your business invaluable word-of-mouth referrals.
Yes, getting customer complaints is not what you look forward to as you walk into your business in the mornings! But if you view this inevitable part of running a company as a valuable opportunity to interact with your customers and improve your business, the benefits you can derive from customer complaints are many, varied, and richly rewarding.