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Don’t Just Acknowledge Complaints, Use Them to Improve!

Just about every business receives a complaint at some point or another. Whether it’s by phone, e-mail or via social media, when a customer is unhappy or feels they have been taken advantage of, they want to be heard. Most customer service people are trained how to deal with unhappy customers. But does the buck stop there? What happens with the complaints once they are resolved?

 

While occasional complaints are to be expected, if the same complaint is repeated on a consistent basis, it’s time to look at what’s going on internally. Often, one or several employees are responsible for the same complaints. Or, it could be an internal process that isn’t working or a scheduling problem, i.e. not enough employees to effectively deal with the volume of customers.

 

Fortunately, identifying the source of customer complaints is not difficult. All it requires is tapping into the customer service agent or whoever else is responsible for addressing customer complaints.

 

Who is responsible for dealing with customer complaints? Is it a customer service agent or agents, or is it individual department managers? Hold a brief weekly meeting to gather information on complaints. How many and what were the issues? Was the same issue complained about more than once? Was a specific employee named?

 

If an employee is responsible for the complaints, don’t immediately criticize that person. They may be genuinely unaware how their behavior is affecting customers. Instead, be gentle but informative, and give specific advice on how that person’s behavior should be.

 

If you are receiving complaints about your product or service, first you have to put aside any defensive feelings you may have on the subject. Just because you feel like your product is the best, or your service is the best you can offer, doesn’t mean that all your customers will agree. If the complaint is repeated, change may be necessary; either in the way you’re providing the service, or in the internal process itself. If the problems are with a product, there’s less you can do. This may just be personal preference on the consumers’ part. But addressing their concerns and checking into them to see if there is really a problem with the product will go a long way towards creating goodwill with that customer.

 

Resolving customer complaints is a necessary first step towards building customer loyalty; but resolution alone will not ensure that the customer will come back. Using information from complaints to implement genuine change within your organization will both reduce customer complaints and increase the likelihood that your customers will return to purchase, again and again.

 

What system do you have in place to handle customer complaints? What do you do once they’re resolved? Have you ever changed an internal process because of repeated complaints? If so, how did it turn out? 

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Tags: LoyaltyTrac, MediaTrac, customer, loyalty, programs, retention

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Comment by David Johnson on September 19, 2012 at 3:02pm

I've written extensively about this sort of thing in the past, even devoted a portion of my session at AutoCon to it. Here are some stats that I've run across that blow my mind:

•1% of customer conversations are assimilated as organizational knowledge
•9% of customer conversations touch the organization, but no learning occurs
•90% of customer conversations never touch the organization
I'm thrilled that you wrote this, everybody needs to read it!

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