I was reading a very interesting article by Don Peppers on the Untapped Value of Customer Complaints. I thought it was a lovely piece which brought out some very important points on this topic in a brilliant manner.
- If you feel a company has wronged you in some way, then you’ll be examining every new interaction with it for evidence to confirm this personal belief. (This is your confirmation bias at work. Don’t even bother trying to deny its existence.)
- Even a single complainer’s dissatisfaction and distrust can soon infect a large number of others. So complainers, if left to their own devices, can do immense damage to the value of your overall franchise.
- The more a business contradicts the customer’s own pessimistic expectations, the more noticeable and memorable its initiative will be. When done right, like the boiling pot of water that freezes faster, a boiling complainer will often become a highly convinced brand advocate even faster than someone who never had a complaint to begin with.
In fact, Don Peppers gives some lovely tips on how to handle customer complaints:
Most often, companies and individuals who work for these companies are always in denial mode when complaints happen. Also, many of them I find are not honest to ackowledge it. Customers love individuals who acknowledge the complaint and sincerely try to solve them. The fact that they first listen to the problem is critical. Then, trying to solve the most important aspect or even part of the problem or even giving it their best shot to ensure it is heard or addressed is the next step.
Many companies have processes,software, tracking dept for complaints but customers look for the 'soul' when they raise a complaint. Many a times employees become 'numb' to complaints and that does not help.
I always find the best doctors are the ones who understand the problem of the patients and their relatives even though they handle thousands of cases. The best ones spend a lot of time hearing and empathizing with the near and dear.
Customer complaints are also similar. They are invaluable assets and companies need to treat them not just as business as usual.
In Don Peppers own words "When done right, like the boiling pot of water that freezes faster, a boiling complainer will often become a highly convinced brand advocate even faster than someone who never had a complaint to begin with."