10/06/2015 - 04:58

Customer complaints are gifts to treasure

10/06/2015 - 04:58


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Acomplaining customer provides your business with a great opportunity to improve its service delivery.

CARE FACTOR: Poor customer service can spell trouble for your business. Image: iStockphoto

Acomplaining customer provides your business with a great opportunity to improve its service delivery.

No business is immune from customer complaints; and that’s a good thing, because a customer complaint is wake-up call that expectations have not been met.

More importantly, a complaint is a golden opportunity for businesses to make helpful changes or improvements to their respective product or service offerings.

All businesses need to maintain a high rate of customer satisfaction if they are to survive and prosper. This is only possible if a business can satisfy its customers after they have experienced a service breakdown.

The way a business handles complaints from its customers is of vital importance to the customer’s perception of the company’s service quality.

An important part of a company’s quality assurance is having a good customer complaints culture and service recovery process.

If the frequently cited statistic that 26 out of 27 service customers do not complain when things go wrong is correct, then to get an accurate count of dissatisfied customers we should multiply the number of complaints we receive by 27.

Ten complaints equal a potential 270 dissatisfied customers in the service industry.

It is also vitally important to separate the message from the medium. We must distance the content of the complaint from the emotion of being blamed. In other words, don’t take things personally and don’t shoot the messenger.

This means gaining empathy for the disappointed people and rethinking how complaints can help you move forward as a business. The very fact that a customer summoned up the courage and made the effort to complain indicates some level of commitment to you. Many will only grumble to others, particularly via social media, or simply walk away.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Imagine if what they are complaining about had happened to you. How would you react? What would need to happen for you to be satisfied?

All business depends heavily on word-of-mouth advertising. The way we handle complaints will either work for us, or against us. People are much more likely to believe a recommendation from a friend than formal advertising.

If we handle complaints well, it can be a very powerful source of positive word-of-mouth testimony. On the other hand, the more dissatisfied people become, the more likely they are to spread bad news. And since the advent of social media, the bad news about your business can circle the globe in an instant.

So the next time a customer complains about their steak being overcooked, or their coffee was cold, or your repairman was late, or the delivery didn’t arrive on time, or the attitude of your staff was unhelpful, or your doors were shut before your advertised closing time, or no-one has telephoned them to tell them what’s happening, or your business doesn’t have credit card or Eftpos facilities (really?)… stop, shut up, listen, and receive the complaint as a gift.


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