Generally, customers complain when what they have received has not matched their expectations.
This can happen in two ways: The product or service is sub-standard; or the advertisement of it is exaggerated to the point that has raised the expectation of the customer beyond the quality of the product or service.
These are usually inadvertent because every organization wants to meet their customers’ expectations and satisfy them. But the truth is that no organization can satisfy all their customers all the time. Hence, it is inevitable that any organization that has customers will get complaints.
And complaints are not customers lost. They are warnings, most times delivered in an unpleasant manner. They are negative in nature, sometimes hostile. Customer complaints are usually not nice.
But in them, if well handled, lie enormous opportunities. Here are three of such opportunities.
1. A Chance For Recovery: Many customers who are dissatisfied don’t complain. Studies show that only 10% of dissatisfied customers complain. The 90% who do not complain show their dissatisfaction by not buying again.
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But here is the point, if you solve the problem that the 10% complain about, you will potentially recover the 90% who do not complain.
In other words, you need to listen to the customers who are talking to you and ensure you fix the problem for them as well as anyone else who may have experienced it, but didn’t say anything. If not, customers will complain about you to everyone but you, and be taking their business elsewhere.
Please note this: Always assume other customers have the same problem as the customers who reach out to you.
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2. Increase In Loyalty: When customers complain and their complaints are well handled, they become confident that, every time they deal with your organization, they will have a great experience, and – in those rare cases when they do not – they have absolutely no doubt that your organization will take whatever steps are necessary to immediately rectify the situation. It is this confidence – the absence of perceived risk – that increases loyalty.
In a research carried out in three industries on the impact of complaint resolution on customer loyalty, results show that loyalty increased significantly after problem resolution.
As depicted below, in high-tech equipment industry, loyalty before a problem was 53% and increased to 83% after resolving the problem – a 57% increase. In telecoms, loyalty increased by 39% and in automotive services, it increased by a whopping 74%.
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3. Insight To Market Factors: Your business is just one small cog in the wider economy, with political, economic, social and technological factors affecting it. So for it to be successful, it is important to understand when these factors change so as to adapt accordingly.
And monitoring these factors is not an easy task as oftentimes we get so engulfed in running the business that we fail to notice important changes in the wider economy.
But there is one person that brings a compendium of these changes to the organization, often. Guess who. The customer – in the form of complaints.
Most customer complaints have embedded in them cues for changes in political, economic, social or technological factors, and sometimes alerts to potential threats. Complaints can also signal brand-new opportunities that exist in the marketplace.
While the three opportunities highlighted above are not exhaustive, taking advantage of them can have huge impact on the business. Indeed, the opportunities in customer complaints are enormous.
That is why forward thinking organizations are not only grateful to receive complaints, but encourage customers to complain and also provide an easy way for them to do so. They appreciate complaints and take them as gifts from customers, and tap into the opportunities that lie therein.
But as lucrative as these opportunities are, some organizations still miss them. This is primarily because what an organization makes out of customer complaints depends on how the complaints are handled. Handling customer complaints is critical. And many employees fail here – making their organization miss the opportunities, while customers also slip away to competitors.