On the surface, it might seem like customer complaints are a bad thing, and that they’re just the opinions of people having a bad day, and taking it out on you. However, there are some very useful things about customer complaints, so instead of ignoring them, you should try to derive as much value as possible from them. Keep in mind that it’s much better for your customers to complain directly to you with legitimate feedback, than to spread bad opinions about your company to friends and relatives. If you handle customer complaints correctly, you should be able to obtain a great deal of value from them.
Learning from customer complaints
Instead of running away from customer complaints and fearing them, you should actually embrace them and learn from them. The feedback you get from customers can tell you a lot about how you can make your products better, and how you can improve your customer service. Beyond that, you might also learn about which business processes aren’t working well in your company, which employees are not performing up to snuff, products which need to be somehow modified or improved, and you might even learn how your competitors are doing things better than you are. When you do get honest customer complaints, you should consider it solid gold feedback, which you can use to improve various aspects of your business. Whatever you do, don’t just write them off as opinions which don’t matter, or isolated incidents.
Getting the most value from customer complaints
In order to get the most value from customer complaints, you should actually encourage them from people who patronize your business. Think about what the alternative might be – an unsatisfied customer will very often not say a word to you, and just take their business elsewhere. Seek out opportunities to receive customer feedback, for instance by conducting surveys, so that you can find out which areas of your business need improvement, and so you can prevent customer abandonment.
Another aspect of deriving value from customer complaints is to try and see things from their point of view. If you find yourself becoming defensive about complaints or outright attacks, chances are you won’t be able to learn the potentially valuable information associated with the complaint. When you get customer complaints, a good approach would be to at least temporarily assume the customer is right, and consider what it was about your business that triggered the complaint.
When you’re not sure about the legitimacy of some complaints even after investigation, one good tack would be to reach out to some of your most loyal customers for their feedback. Those customers who are with you through thick and thin know there’s something great about your company and its products, so they won’t drop their loyalty even if there’s something wrong with your service or products. By polling them, you may be able to confirm or disprove the complaints of other customers.
You should also formalize your customer complaint processes by taking advantage of technology. There are a number of software programs such as Help Scout, FreshDesk, and ZenDesk, which are very useful for small businesses, and can help you formally track your customer complaints and interactions, so that you can identify trends and not lose track of any individual complaints.
It’s important to listen to your customers carefully and after having investigated any complaint, to communicate with customers about steps you are taking to rectify unacceptable situations. Following up is exactly what most customers are looking for, because they want to know that their complaints are being heard and acted upon. When you get customer complaints, you should look at them for what they really are – the most honest and valuable feedback you can get, and legitimate indicators of what you need to do to make your business better.
If you’d like to review the customer service strategy for your business, Business Partner Alliance is here for you. We provide targeted coaching, consulting and business advisory services to help small and medium sized business owners achieve new heights. We put our passion and experience to work to help business people achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee to see how we can work together.