Companies must view customer complaints as an opportunity, not as a hassle
The reality is that most unhappy customers never take the time to let companies know about being unhappy or upset. However, they will tell their friends all about it and in great detail.
This is unfair to the company, for it never gets a chance to resolve the situation or win the disgruntled customer back. In addition, their image takes a hit in the eyes of these other consumers, which the company has no control over.
But in a way, companies are to blame. Most people are conditioned to think that registering a complaint won’t accomplish anything. Here are six reasons why:
1. Customers Don’t See the Point:Too many customers don’t see any upside to complaining about a wrong order or a mishandled service. They assume no one cares and therefore won’t do anything about it. Why is this? Because in the past too many companies have had this exact attitude. They viewed complaints as an interruption. Therefore, they tried to discourage customers from contacting them. And for those who got through, their concerns were summarily dismissed.
2. Customers Are Too Busy: Often it takes too much time to complain. Most customers don’t see the cost-benefit of doing so. They envision long hold times and can quickly think of better things to do with their precious time. They assume reaching out to a company to complain will accomplish nothing other than take away what little discretionary time they have.
3. Companies Make It Hard: Of course, some companies make it difficult to complain. They hide their phone number and email address behind layers of self-service solutions, if they even provide them at all. Though some motivated customers track down a company’s phone number, it might not be the right one and therefore not reach the folks best equipped to handle the situation. In today’s I-want-it-now consumer mindset, a phone number, email address, or chat box should be one click away from anywhere on a company’s website. But most don’t provide this.
4. Customers Fear They’ll Make Things Worse: Sometimes registering a complaint can actually make a bad situation even worse. Let’s say a customer calls to complain about shipping charges when they thought they were getting free delivery. The rep says, “Oh, you were charged the wrong amount. It should be more. Let me adjust it.”
Or as the agent investigates the situation, they determine the customer wasn’t entitled to a discount or free bonus after all. Then they’re charged the full price. The customer hangs up, wishing they hadn’t called.
5. Customers Fear Retaliation: Occasionally we hear stories of companies “firing” a customer for complaining too often, returning too many products, or requesting refunds too frequently. No one wants a business to fire them. Therefore, they decide to keep quiet rather than voice concern or disappointment.
We’ve also heard instances of agents flagging a customer’s account for being belligerent or threatening. Whether this assessment is true or not, it’s not likely a regular occurrence. But that negative mark stays on their account record forever. Now every subsequent contact is tainted by this one misleading notation.
6. Companies Don’t Ask for Feedback: The last reason is perhaps the most important one. Too often companies simply don’t let their customers know they want to hear from them. They never take the time to say, “Let us know what you think,” and therefore customers don’t try.
Conclusion: When customers take time to share their opinion or voice a concern, it’s usually because they care about the relationship with the company and want to preserve it or make it even better. Yes, a few people are simply hard to get along with, but most customers just want to be treated fairly and enjoy a bit of respect.
And when a company properly handles a customer complaint, there’s a good chance the once-unhappy consumer will become an even more loyal one. Think of that next time someone complains.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry, which helps clients grow their revenue. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.