A business’s ultimate goal is to always have satisfied customers. Consumers spreading the news about your business is great marketing. The problem arises when the news being spread is negative. Complaining customers worry most businesses especially in today’s internet driven world where customers have a wide and far-reaching platform to speak about businesses, their services, and products. They have the potential to tell thousands of friends on social media or business review platforms about their experience with a business. This potential is a double-edged sword for any business because among those consumers singing your praise are complaining consumers who were not impressed by you and want others to know it.
Business review platforms are becoming popular by the day and not only are they beneficial for consumers,but they are great for businesses. Any business owner will tell you how great good customer reviews are.What most of them will not mention are the bad reviews.
While businesses strive for a hundred percent customer satisfaction it doesn’t always happen. Once in a while, you will have consumers complaining. Worse is that for the complaining customers, there are hundreds more who will not complain. They will simply stop using your services and products. Ruby Newell-Legner in her book, “Understanding Customers”,indicates that 96% of customers do not make complaints and out of those, 91% will not visit your business again. It is, therefore, important to use those unhappy complaints to get a better understanding of what your business is doing wrong, learn from the experience and recover in ways that will build customer loyalty instead of losing business.
A customer’s complaint highlights problems with employees or internal processes. It shows you it is time to review your employees, the quality of your services and products, as well as external communication.Once you receive a complaint, analyze it to find out how often the complaint has been made, who is making the complaint and how the complaint was received. This information helps to determine the way forward and the measures to be taken to rectify the problem.
Complaints are an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers. Reaching out to them to find out about their bad experience makes a consumer feel valued. Acknowledge the complaint and apologize. In most cases that’s all the customer is looking for. Once you reach out, you can keep them in your contact list. In future, you could suggest to them new offers and deals from your company, further improving your relationship. White House Office of Consumer Affairs statistics shows that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one so you need to keep them happy.
The complaints from consumers are also your opportunity to broaden your horizons and find new investment opportunities. When reviewing you, consumers sometimes complain of lack of certain products and services. This is an opportunity to introduce those services and products. It can also be an opportunity to expand in order to provide the services and products.
Customer complaints also factor into organizational change, especially with the employees. Bad reviews concerning services from the employees will force you to acknowledge the need to let the poorly reviewed employees go, or move them elsewhere.
These negative complaints are your opportunity to exceed your customer’s expectations. When fixing the complaint, offer a discount on their next purchase or a first look at new products. While an apology is enough, going above and beyond will impress your consumers even more.According to a study by the White House Office of Consumer Affair, happy customers who get their issue resolved to tell about 4-6 people about their experience. They will feel that you care about them and the next time they are talking about your business, they are conveying a positive message.
A mistake is an opportunity to learn and same goes for complaining customers.They give you a chance to evaluate your business and make changes that eventually turn into profit and success.
By Imran Khan – founder of Yululate Kenya. Yululate is Kenya’s premier consumer review website and largest social network for businesses.