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A brilliant and successful businessperson recently shared why he loves his angriest customers. Phil Libin, CEO and co-founder of Evernote, wrote an article for Inc. where he explained that customer feedback is essential to the growth of any business. All companies solicit feedback from their customers be it via online or physical surveys, suggestion boxes or some other way. Even companies that don’t solicit it, get it.
According to Mr. Libin, there are three types of customer feedback: complaints, suggestions and compliments. For any of this feedback to matter, you first have to have a leadership team that not only cares, but knows how to handle each of these. He explains that while suggestions are great, other than an occasional nugget of inspiration, they have very little value for improving your product or service. Compliments are always wonderful and have value in that you can hear what you’re doing right. They can also increase employee morale; but only if you share them; which many managers fail to do. The real value in customer feedback; the one Phil not only says he loves but also feels holds the most value; is complaints.
As most dealerships know, angry customers are typically the most vocal and will more frequently vent that anger towards you either directly (via e-mail, letter or a phone call) or indirectly (via an online review, social media post, etc.). The problem, he says, is that most people charged with monitoring feedback take complaints personally. Many times this is simply due to the fact they have no experience with being criticized online.
“Complaints are great; the more detailed, the better. They tell us where our product or overall experience is failing. Plus, they are the easiest form of feedback to get. No training or solicitation required. People are naturally good at complaining...” says Libin.
Complaints are actionable items that can assist you in identifying areas of your business that needs improvement. You cannot expect to increase customer retention and build loyal customers if you’re not willing to listen to what they believe is wrong. Remember, they are your customers. While you may think your product or service is the best in the universe; chances are you aren’t your company’s source of revenue. It’s the customers’ opinions that matter.
Make sure that you have a leadership team in tune with customer feedback that knows how to properly manage, and respond, when necessary. You don’t have to make every change suggested in every complaint - the point is that you need to listen. Don’t just listen to feedback sent directly to you; but also make sure you are paying attention and monitoring for the feedback that customers are sharing with others.
Your customers are your business’s most important assets. Without them, all you’ll have are some pretty desks and technology… and even that won’t be for long! Take the time to not only solicit feedback from your customers but listen to the feedback that is the hardest to listen to: complaints.
Sometimes the truth hurts but as I’m sure you’ve heard before… “No Pain. No Gain.”