How customer complaints can help your business

8th Jan 2018

Angry customers are a boon for business

Every business is centred on one key aspect – its customers. This is why customer satisfaction is often used as the ideal indicator for measuring customer loyalty, identifying unhappy customers and for reducing churn and increasing revenue. A network of satisfied customers is also a key point of differentiation that helps businesses build their consumer base in competitive business environments.

So what happens when the customer is not satisfied with your product or service? He will either switch to your competition or he will come back with feedback. The latter is what will create an opportunity for you to retain that customer. And not only that but also to make sure he converts to a brand loyalist and a promoter.

To know how we first need to understand the customer of the 21st century.

The anatomy of the a consumer

Before the wave of digitisation swept over industries and when businesses were mostly offline, relationships were initiated by companies through non-targeted sales pitches such as cold calls, blast emails or direct mail. Also, customers had limited access to product or service information.

Cut to today, and we see that the market is driven by consumer demand. Today’s customer is aware and makes an informed purchase after thorough research and analysis, made possible by online product reviews, cost comparisons and access to company information.

Moreover, with intense competition vying for the customer’s attention, the stakes are much higher for businesses today. Now more than ever, marketing and sales need to align in order to grow a sustainable relationship with a customer.

While digitisation has empowered the consumer, it has also presented an opportunity for businesses to track and quantify customer interactions, behaviour, and transactions. This, in turn, will help business heads make informed decisions based on customer data gathered from their own analytics.

So every time you receive a complaint email, a phone call or even a hard copy, think again. You must be grateful for that complaint because according to research ‘every one customer that complains, 25 other customers remain silent’ - White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It means that you are only getting feedback from very few customers and other valuable customers are either giving you a chance or they aren’t.

Dealing with feedback constructively

An unhappy customer is like a misguided bullet; it is up to you to make sure that it hits bull’s-eye and doesn’t cause harm to your business. In fact, when the customer comes back to complain, it is actually considered to be a form of customer loyalty. The key to customer satisfaction lies in resolution.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when dealing with irked consumers:

  • Learn: A bad experience can be a great learning for your business, something you can make sure is not repeated with your other customers.
  • Identify: An irate customer can point out flaws in your business process that you may not otherwise notice. Identify those to understand your areas of improvement.
  • Listen: When a customer comes back with a complaint, he/ she might compare you to your competitors. Listen and make note of what the competition is up to, to make the necessary changes in your product or service.
  • Personalize: Feedback will help give you more insights into consumer behaviour, their likes, and dislikes and buying habits. This is a great opportunity to personalize and push sales in a targeted manner.

How can a disgruntled customer help your business?

It is normal for businesses to worry about the impact that negative feedback can have on potential customers. It is important, however, to appreciate that critical feedback is essential for building a better product.

For customers having the ease of providing critical feedback about a product or service actually helps them purchase more confidently and even more quickly, and by proactively sharing those reviews, businesses can turn negative feedback into a competitive advantage. Now that’s called a win-win situation!

 Here’s how:

  • Build loyalty: When a customer comes to you with a problem, he is basically giving you a chance to justify his loyalty to your business. By solving the issues of your unhappy customers in a timely and efficient manner, you can provide specialised value they might not find in competition, making it more likely that they’ll stay with you.
  • Derive Commitment: Customers want to know if they’re being heard, and that their opinion matters. The important part is to respond, as soon as possible, assuring the customer that their issues are being looked into and will be resolved at the earliest. This gives you an opportunity to show your commitment towards your consumer, helping to win back their trust.
  • Impact sales: It is simple logic, really – if a customer trusts you, he will buy from you. In fact, he’ll tell his friends to buy from you too. Therefore, when you deal with negative feedback, the more responsive you are, the quicker you are in resolving issues, and the better your chances will be to build a trustworthy relationship with your customer.
  • Save costs: Did you know that it costs seven times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing one? [*Source:] This is because the barrier to entry is much higher for top-of-funnel prospects. And to be honest, customers don’t buy from brands they don’t trust. So apologize, thank and solve your customer’s issue, and throw in an added reward too! They deserve it!

Collecting feedback the smart way

Social media, while great for marketing, can also spell doom for your business, if your customers publicize their dissatisfaction. Did you know that according to the American Express Survey 2014, on an average, consumers tell eight people about their good experiences and about 21 people about their bad experiences? [*Source:] That’s disaster in the making!

To avoid that from happening, the smart thing to do is to pre-empt this and create a personalized feedback system. This will help bring the customer feedback directly to you without any middlemen meddling with them and you can take instant actions before it spreads on social media.

A good way to do that would be to adopt and extensively implement one of many new-age customer satisfaction survey app out there. Go with the ones that provide multi-channel support so that you can tap into customer feedback from different touch points. Here’s why:

Works on multiple channels: No matter what your feedback management scenario may be multi-channel (online, SMS or email) survey apps make it the easiest & most effective method to gather feedbacks from customers.

Easy to setup: When you decide to use a comprehensive feedback app, it enables you to create, distribute surveys, and also take actions from within the Response Inbox where all the feedbacks are stored, in turn.

Easy to distribute: You can count upon feedback apps that enable easy survey distribution. The apps must give you the liberty to distribute customer satisfaction survey forms through various channels like QR codes, embed links, survey web links over emails and SMS in the most simplistic manner. 

Real-time response analysis: If you are using survey apps for collecting and managing customer surveys make sure it is real-time. A real-time survey app will help you to take actions on the responses as and when you get them. Also, you can catch issues and solve them on the spot if your customers have filled a survey on your premises.

The bottom line

It’s important to remember that collecting customer feedback and not acting upon it is a wasteful activity. The top management should focus on the outcomes of feedback and the activities that should take place to address it – actionable insights. Every dissatisfied customer can become an advocate for your business as well as a key source of referrals – only if you’re prepared to hear them out!

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