Turning a complaint into business gold dust

The post-Christmas period will mean rafts of complaints: but how can you turn this potential headache into an advantage?

The thought of discussing complaints is one that most businesses avoid like the plague, but as a recent Harris Survey revealed, UK brands are currently losing £15 billion annually due to poor customer service.

Of course no business likes to receive a complaint. It’s hard not to take it personally when it comes to your business, you’re the one putting every bit of blood, sweat and tears into it. But rather than sweep them under the proverbial carpet and hope they go away, the statistics are out there and plain to see.

If you’re not tackling complaints, it’s a well known fact that they’ll not only shout about it to potential prospects but they’ll also take themselves to your competitors.

Welcoming complaints can make the difference between growing a successful company, and having it nose dive after a few years. Marketing Metrics revealed that the probability of converting an existing customer to an upsell is between 60-70%, whilst the probability of converting a prospect is only around 20%.

So while you may think there’s plenty more fish in the sea where your customers are concerned, you simply couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s not just good customer sense, it’s good business sense. Using the opportunity of a complaint constructively takes skill and professionalism.

The Moment of Truth

Every time you have contact with your customer it is another chance to impress them and show them that you really care. Despite the difficulty you may have listening to a customer rant and rave, have a positive attitude about complaints. Mind over matter as the old saying goes, and it couldn’t ring more true.

When a complainer receives a satisfactory response they will talk positively about it, after all it’s like a mini victory for them and they’ll want to tell anyone who’s available to listen.

For many businesses it can be a natural reaction to just want to get rid of the complainer as soon as possible, but you’ve been given a second chance to get it right so don’t rush them off the phone. Listen to what they’re actually saying to you and you may be surprised at how easily it can all be fixed.

Listen and Learn

Thanks to the digital age that we live in and the rise of social media, customers are publishing feedback on your products and service across the internet whether you like it or not. A survey by West Interactive found that 59% of complaints on Twitter go unanswered, leaving customers feeling neglected and completely used.

Where once there was only a phone call, in today’s world it’s hard to find any reason why a serious business would avoid having reviews of products and services on their website.

Whilst it may be tempting to hit the ‘remove’ button to avoid any extra fall out, what your customers are saying is incredibly valuable. 

Highlighting problems that you may not have been aware of, a complaint can ensure you fix the issue before it get’s out of hand.

By doing this you create an honest relationship with your customers, and open up the lines of communication so that they feel as though their feedback is valued.

Keep in Touch

You may feel that once the complaint has been dealt with that you can close the book and feel rather smug with yourself. But as this infographic by DMC Software details, the gift of a complaint is part of a much bigger customer retention strategy.

As a business it’s never wise to neglect customers who have made a complaint, in fact they’re now your biggest asset and need nurturing as much as possible to become brand ambassadors. Most dissatisfied customers don’t even bother complaining, with the average business not hearing from 96% of it’s unhappy customers.

If these basic facts don’t make you sit up and listen to your customers, then you’re in for a rough ride. Harness every opportunity that a complaint provides your business. Better to have complaints than silent dissatisfaction.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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