Positive responses to complaints drive success

22nd Aug 2022

UK consumers are feeling the effects of tough trading conditions for many businesses, with flight cancellations, parcel delays, low stock and call wait times on the rise. New research from the Institute of Customer Service reveals that complaints have hit their highest level on record and Feefo’s own survey shows that Brits feel companies have got worse at dealing with negative feedback. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As CCO at Feefo, I’ve seen the various strategies our customers have introduced to manage the feedback they receive and improve customer satisfaction. Effectively dealing with negative feedback, complaints and reviews and implementing real change off the back of them is key to improving the overall customer experience, driving loyalty and positive brand building.

Complaints are a golden opportunity

It may feel uncomfortable but engaging with negative feedback is crucial to ensuring your business grows and improves. Our research found that brands who value, understand and act upon complaints or negative reviews gain a significant advantage over their competitors. 

It should go without saying that every issue needs responding to; ignoring complaints can lead to a loss of customers and reputation, while responding in an effective way can breed long term loyalty. The fact that nearly half of people happy with how a brand had responded to their complaint went on to use the business again underscores this point. 

Open communication is key to resolution 

Conscious consumerism is on the rise and businesses are under increased pressure to be transparent and authentic with their customers, especially when dealing with problems. Consumers are realistic, they know that no business gets every interaction right and some things are out of a company’s control. Reaching out with a transparent explanation and an apology is a good start. Businesses shouldn’t be afraid of the word sorry. 

But real improvement means going further. 

The latest ICS report shows while there has been a general trend for improved complaint handling, there needs to be a shift away from “service recovery” to identifying and fixing the root cause of the problems. 

I’d recommend thinking ahead and building strategies to identify potential customer problems and what the possible solutions could be in each scenario. Having a contingency plan in place means you can act fast to resolve complaints, without issues festering. Brands who do this will reap the benefits as almost 70% of people will continue their purchase if they can see that the company has acknowledged a complaint and offered a solution. 

Prioritising customer experience

Customer expectations are higher than ever and in tough times it’s tempting for businesses to focus on cost-reduction strategies. However, it is vital to invest in your customer experience now to keep your business running long term. In fact, 92% of companies have experienced increased sales and loyalty since improving their customer experience. 

Businesses can lean on technology for support. At Feefo, we have a range of tools, such as sentiment analysis, which can provide a complete overview of how customers are feeling and allow you to understand which areas of the business need improving or where you’re doing well. 

Working to strengthen customer experience will deliver rewards in the long run. Complaints can be the canaries in the coal mine, highlighting where you need to make improvements. And dealing effectively with those complaints can turn unhappy customers into loyal advocates of your brand. Consumers are more forgiving than you think, once they feel heard and will give businesses the chance to put their strategies right, with customers at the centre.  



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