In today’s internet-driven world, customers have more power than ever. A satisfied customer may share their good experience with three friends, whereas an angry customer has the potential to tell 3,000 friends in social networks and communities. And for each customer that complains, there are anywhere from tens to thousands of people that don’t complain – And they simply stop doing business with you.
Research has shown that customers with issues that are resolved quickly can often turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates. Simply put, a customer complaint can become very profitable when you can resolve their problem.
A customer complaint highlights problems with employees or internal processes and you can fix them before further problems arise and cause a bad customer experience. One of the advantages of CRM is that you can keep a record of customer feedback, both positive and negative.
- You can use positive feedback to provide social proofing and attract new customers
- You can use negative feedback to fix any internal processes and make your customers happy
Your company will hear about a complaint either from the customer directly, in written or verbal communication or by leaving your brand to shop with a competitor due to a negative experience.
A 2010 Customer Experience Report by RightNow found that the number one reason customers leave a brand to use a competitor was not due to pricing or faster service, but due to poor quality and rude customer service.
In order to analyze the complaint thoroughly, you need to review a number of factors, such as who the complaint came from and how often this customer complains. You can then analyze how often this complaint occurs and then take the necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again.
When it comes to dealing with complaints, you need to consider your organizations’ service, quality, communication and response time. Look at the cost, billing issues and if problems are regularly followed up. Launching customer service software can help you avoid any future complaints.
In order to manage complaints effectively, you can take a complaint analysis approach. This means asking yourself the following questions:
- Has this happened before?
- Have the complaints been recorded into your customer service system?
- How often does the same complaint arise?
- Is there a pattern to this complaint in how it was received?
- Has the same customer reported this previously?
How to handle customer complaints
The next time you receive a customer complaint, follow these tips to help transform it into a golden opportunity for your business.
Listen and understand
Always listen to the customer. They have complained for a reason and it is important to understand why they are complaining. Research has shown that customers care more about quality than a fast response – take the time to listen and understand what their problem is. To maintain quality from all support personnel, use a customer service knowledge base.
Don’t be afraid to apologize for the mistake. Many customers are simply looking for an apology and acknowledgement of their complaint, yet so many businesses are hesitant to admit when they have made a mistake. But don’t just stop at the apology; follow through with a promise to resolve the complaint.
Find a solution
When your customer has a legitimate complaint, your customer service team need to find a solution and fix it. Give your team the authority to handle the majority of customer complaints to avoid passing your customer onto a series of people and managers. If the issue has been or can be repeated, make the necessary changes so you do not receive another complaint.
Follow up with the customer
Make sure that you follow up with your customer to make sure they are satisfied with the solution. This can be in the form of a follow up email or survey asking for feedback on how the complaint was handled. 68% of customers leave a company because they believe you don’t care about them.
You have acknowledged the mistake, fixed the problem and followed up. Now it’s your chance to go one step further and exceed expectations, whether this is to provide a discount on their next purchase or offer a free consultation. In doing so, the next time your customer talks about your business, this will be the message they communicate most.
In addition, you can also create a customer complaint analysis checklist that helps you record complaints and ensure that they are resolved. The checklist would be:
- Is the complaint/ feedback department visible to your customers?
- Is a record of complaints kept that can be escalated to top management?
- Do you categorize complaints in order to monitor developing trends?
- Have you acknowledged the complaint?
- Have you informed the customer that you are taking action?
- Have you resolved the complaint according to company policy?
- Have you follow up with the customer to make sure they are satisfied with the resolution?
- Do you file the report and analyze complaints on a monthly basis to make sure all complaints are resolved?
Searching for complaints on the web
Customer loyalty can be elusive, but it is important in order to run a successful business. In today’s digital world, there are thousands of forums, price comparison websites and social networks for customers to vent their frustrations and complain.
Not all complaints will be official and follow the complaint procedures – so you can easily start by reviewing your online social profiles.
- Have any negative comments been made on your blog?
- Has your brand name been mentioned on Twitter?
- Do customers post messages on your Facebook brand page?
- Has anyone left a bad review on your Google+ Local page?
- Are the comments made on your YouTube channel positive?
- Is your brand listed in any complaint directories/ forums when you search in Google?
All these channels will need to be monitored. If you don’t respond, readers will assume you don’t care. If you respond to messages online, it can be seen as though you are making an effort and that you care. This act alone can inspire brand loyalty and customer confidence. If a customer called in to complain, would you ignore their call?
A quick response is important, but your customers are much more likely to remember you if you deliver an excellent service to solve their problem than compared to a fast response just to close a customer service ticket.
If your business goal is to keep as many customers as you can (which it should be!), stay calm, find a solution and make sure the problem does not come up again. This will help turn even the toughest complaint into a pot of gold.