Complaints are great opportunities to improve your customer experience !
I shudder when I hear leaders say, we don’t get complaints here! Let’s face it, there is no perfect business, so your team is either concealing the complaints or your customers are just too frustrated to be bothered to complain. There are varying schools of thought on how Barbadian customers approach complaints. There are some who think “they will get someone into trouble” and are upset but never complain. Others simply acknowledge their customer power and choose to walk away. In both scenarios, whilst customers may not complain to the company, the bad experience is shared amongst family, friends and colleagues. This word of mouth impact can be disastrous for the company, especially since it was not given the chance to remedy the customer experience.
Even though it may be a regulatory requirement, a customer-centric company will have its own Complaints Policy. This policy should be relatively simple, easily understood and will succinctly identify the parameters for complaint resolution. It should guide team members on the length of time for complaint resolution, how the investigation of the complaint should proceed and more importantly the need for follow-up action to ensure that there is no recurrence of the complaint. If a Complaints Policy is new to an organisation , it may not be readily embraced. You will have to do some hand holding on this exercise, otherwise you will run the risk of having unresolved complaints.
Early Warning Signs !
A random complaint has the ability to tell a deeper story about an organization and often provide the roadmap to improving efficiencies. A complaint can also give you an early warning sign that your processes or your people may be in trouble. Good complaint monitoring will enable the customer-centric organisation to quickly pick up on trends and patterns in the complaints data. If several customers are similarly dissatisfied, there is a service delivery issue that needs to be immediately addressed. Consistent complaints surrounding a specific team member should prompt leaders to look at workload, training and attitude. This is the beauty of a complaint , it gives you the opportunity to address issues you are unaware of.
One of the key factors to be aware of is the link between complaints and your overall Net Promoter Score. You may surmise that there are only two or three complaints surrounding an issue , when in reality, it has affected several other persons. These customers are just as dissatisfied but have chosen not to complain. Regrettably, these customers will stay in your database and will likely be identified as detractors, customers who will not have anything good to say about your product or service and can easily be swayed to competitors. So while it’s critical to solve the customer issue at hand, do ensure you address the process and the team members involved.
Communicating with a customer
I know this may sound strange, but you can’t investigate a complaint without speaking to the customer! Quite often, a complaint may be passed to a senior officer for investigation and sometimes that officer makes absolutely no contact with the customer! This is quite common in fear-based organisations where the complaining customer is seen as difficult, miserable or picky. Even a verbally abusive customer has a story to tell! Never lose the opportunity to hear for yourself from the customer, to ask additional questions and to make amends. This action is often priceless.
And finally, the real beauty in the complaints process is the recovery. Nothing makes a customer experience practitioner happier than an angry, dissatisfied customer converted to a satisfied one. This type of customer is likely to become a loyal customer, who actively promotes your brand. With their faith in the organisation restored, this customer often goes on to make repeat purchases and more importantly, can become one of your greatest brand advocates !