Customer feedback is essential for any business to adapt and improve to better serve its customer base. Business owners may feel inclined to seek out only positive feedback, while becoming defensive or, even worse, ignoring negative feedback. However, customer complaints give businesses a way to pinpoint exact ways to improve their products, processes, and customer service. Rather than ignoring or fighting complaints, businesses focused on growth should learn to fall in love with the negative feedback they receive.
Here are seven reasons why businesses should fall in love with customer complaints:
1. Finding a Solution Can Boost Trust with Current and Future Customers
If a customer complaint touches on a sensitive issue, it is best to contact the customer privately. However, if the negative feedback addresses something like product performance, a negative interaction with staff, or a perceived shortcoming, consider addressing the problem openly and publicly. By publicly telling your customer you want to find a solution to their problem and amend the issue, the customer feels that you’ll be held accountable and can increase their trust in your business. If a potential customer sees your response to a negative review and your desire to fix the issue, they will be more likely to trust you with their business as well. It is important that you make it easy for clients to reach you, otherwise they may turn to a third-party review site to leave a negative review, at which point it will be much more difficult to rectify the situation.
2. Addressing Customer Complaints can Showcase your Customer Service
How you address complaints can be an excellent way to showcase your professionalism and top-notch customer service. Avoid a back-and-forth battle of words with clients, even if they are wrong. Rather, acknowledge their complaint, put forth a plan of how you will prevent the problem from happening again, and leave the conversation at that. While you may not win that particular person back as a customer, others will notice your tactful response and willingness to help even the most difficult clients, and your customer service and professionalism will be well-noted.
3. Investigating Claims can Improve Your Business
It may be easy to write off complaints as being baseless, but taking the time to investigate negative feedback can lead to revelations about ways to improve your practices. You may find that there is nothing wrong with your product, but perhaps the instructions are unclear and need improving. Or perhaps customer service gave the wrong information to a client, and a round of training is needed to improve those interactions. There are many reasons why someone may leave a bad review, and by collecting the facts and finding the source of the complaint, you may find numerous ways to improve.
4. Handling Complaints Timely Can Increase Business
In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, they found that customers who had a complaint handled in less than five minutes went on to spend more money with that company on future purchases. Additionally, the study found that those same customers were also more likely to recommend the brand to others. Handling complaints quickly can improve your business’s revenue in the long run.
5. Analyzing Complaints can Prevent Them from Happening Again
Implementing a way to analyze complaints can help you track and categorize complaints. Ask yourself a few questions when you receive a complaint. Has this happened before? How often has it happened? Has this customer complained before? What did we do to address it the last time? By answering and analyzing these questions, you can take the steps necessary to prevent it from happening again.
6. Negative Reviews Give You a Chance to Exceed Expectations
You can contact the customer, fix the problem, and provide follow up and call it complete. Or, you can take the opportunity to go above and beyond to exceed your customers’ expectations. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, it can be as simple as a hand-written thank you note, or early access to a new product. By going above and beyond, the customer will remember what you did right and be more likely to pass that on to others rather than talking about what went wrong.
7. Use Complaints to Improve Policies
Customers who complain are typically looking for help and not trouble, and their complaints are likely about a common issue like product issues, safety concerns, pricing, misleading advertising, and shipping mistakes. Make things easier for your customer service team by creating policies and guidelines for dealing with these common complaints. This will help your business have consistent branding and communication.
Customer complaints in the business world should be handled with care and never ignored. If properly managed, they can not only improve the internal working of your business, but they can also help you gain and retain customers. The key to customer complaints is how the business handles them and uses them to improve going forward.
Christine James believes that every customer has a voice. She is the Community Manager at HissingKitty.com (a customer complaints website) and loves talking to customers on social media about their challenges with Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been published on Huffington Post, Inc., SocialMediaToday, and Thought Catalog. Follow her on Twitter @hissingkittycom.
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