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Let’s be real. No one likes complainers. We work hard and try to do our best, but sometimes, our best efforts fail to please our customers.
In these moments of imperfection, we often hear complaints and what irritates customers. Then we sigh and keep those things to ourselves that we should never say to a customer.
The sad fact is only about 4% of dissatisfied customers complain.
If a customer does not complain and has an issue not resolved, they are likely to jump ship and head on down the road to the competition. No one likes that.
The worst part about this scenario is that it is very common for the organization to not even be aware of an issue—a missed opportunity.
The other sad fact is that dissatisfied customers are more comfortable telling their friends about a bad experience than the organization itself.
Now you have a situation where someone had a bad experience, didn’t tell you, won’t be coming back, but now all their friends know. It’s not a good way to gain market share.
Customer complaints are Good!
This is why we want to encourage customers to complain and provide an easy way to provide feedback.
Organizations that provide products or services will inevitably get complaints.
This is because sometimes a process breaks down and results in an unanticipated event that either creates a faulty product or service.
Sometimes, people complain because, as organizations, we are always trying to raise the bar, and when the bar is raised, it creates a new level of expectations for products and services.
There is an old saying that yesterday’s luxuries are today’s necessities.
An example of this would be in the 1950s, when air conditioning on a vehicle was either non-existent or rare. Think about that in today’s environment.
The only way to get a vehicle without air conditioning would probably be to special order it, and I would guess it would be an expensive request.
In the 1950s, this would not be something to complain about, but today, it would be.
Sometimes, customers complain because their “frame of reference” does not necessarily line up with the offered product or service.
An example of this would be someone who has only had exposure to five-star hotels, and then they might stay at a two-star hotel.
They have expectations that may not be met at a less prestigious hotel, which could trigger a complaint.
There are definite benefits to embracing complaints. Let’s talk about why you should commit to resolving customer complaints.
5 Reasons You Should Welcome Customer Complaints!
1. Complaints identify faulty products.
The sad fact is that sometimes faulty products make it to the customer even with the best checks and balances.
If customers do not make organizations aware of the faulty product, they will not fix other potential products that may have the same problem.
This is particularly true, for example, if you have a rude employee answering the phone.
Most people would not bother to spend the energy to notify an organization of rude employees. If a manager is not aware of it, one employee could be chasing lots of customers away.
It is always better to know than to not be aware.
2. Complaints challenge the status quo.
We all work within internal processes. We get into a routine, and processes get stagnant and sometimes need to improve.
Customer questions and complaints challenge the way things are done within an organization.
Organizations can get stuck without solid business goals, and complaints can help identify ways to take an organization to the next level.
Customer complaints can be a reality check for organizations and help them identify ways to grow, develop, and improve.
For instance, let’s say you operate a restaurant. Today’s environment of extreme sanitation measures raises a customer’s expectation for how the table, menus, and the facility are cleaned. Neglecting these important changes may trigger negative customer feedback.
3. Complaints test internal systems and processes.
Successful organizations have very structured and fine-tuned complaint management processes. When you encourage customer complaints, you are fixing the internal processes that may be contributing to a negative customer encounter.
The only way to test those processes is to use them.
A complaint, and the management oversight of how that complaint is handled, is a test to the system.
It can test the customer service skills of trained employees and help identify areas that may be weak for future training.
For instance, let’s say the server at your restaurant was confronted by an angry customer about the way tables are cleaned and sanitized. The test would be how well that server was able to respond and diplomatically defuse the situation.
4. Complaints are our friends.
Customer complaints should be viewed as a friend to the organization and an opportunity to improve what you do and how you do it.
If complaints are viewed as friends, they will be welcomed with open arms.
They will be studied and taken into consideration for future improvements or enhancements to the organization.
For instance, let’s revisit the customer who complained about sanitation procedures. This is a great opportunity to review cleaning protocols and reinforce employee training.
5. Complaints provide the opportunity for service recovery.
Research suggests that a customer who had an issue that was resolved appropriately is a more loyal customer than one who had no complaints at all.
Complaints offer the opportunity to perform service recovery for the customer and show them that the organization cares about their business.
Many businesses now have a service recovery program for these rare yet important times when customers feel their expectations were not met.
An effective service recovery program can transition a customer into a loyal customer who is happier than if they had not had an issue in the first place.
Embracing Customer Complaints Is A Paradigm Shift
Anyone who has worked with the public has felt the sting of a complaining customer. And while dealing with angry customers is never fun, it is a necessary business function.
We all need to shift our thinking about customer complaints. Instead of taking complaints personally and allowing the complaint to ruin our day, we should rethink.
We need to take ourselves out of the situation and realize that most complaints are not about us but often about a broken process.
We should embrace and welcome complaints as they truly can be an organization’s best friend!