Do you know how to handle complaints? Are your staff trained to handle complaints?
We have covered this before. Customer feedback is uber important. Consumer complaints are the nuggets of gold in the feedback river…. And like normal nuggets of gold, complaints should be treasured once found. It is generally accepted that a customer will not complain unless they intend to use your services again in the future. We all know that it costs more to get a new customer than to retain an existing customer. So would it be reasonable to assume that if a customer is willing to complain, then they are probably going to be repeat customers, provided that their complaint is handled correctly.
Additionally, their complaint is obviously identifying something that you may not be doing correctly – isn’t it better to identify this NOW rather than after 2000 other people have discovered the same mistake and have told their friends and family rather than you?
Unfortunately, untethered complaints can spread like wildfire. The rate of information travel via social media is unbelievable; ignoring a complaint and allowing it to escape into the social realm is acknowledging that you are not particularly interested in addressing the issue.
How you handle a complaint is more important than the actual complaint. The complaint itself may be unreasonable or they may just be unrealistic in nature or as a result of conditions out of your control; but because the complaint was made to you then you have automatically been allocated ownership of it.
Unfortunately, dismissing it as not your issue or blaming a government agency will not appease the complainant. What you are obliged to do, especially if you want to turn a negative into a positive and to retain the repeat business, and probably turn your complainant into your business champion, is to resolve the issue so that the complainant is satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, if what they are asking is against the law, then you cannot accommodate that request, but you may be able to sweeten another aspect of their interaction with you.
Recent complaint handling FAILS that I have seen include:
Getting the complainant to complete a feedback form. There was no complaint ownership at the touchpoint. Not acknowledging or dismissing a complaint. Blaming the government. Being so inflexible that any deviations from policy, even minor ones, are ignored. Not giving staff the authority to address the complaint.
From a customer perspective, making a complaint should be as easy as making a sale, and the same courteous attention that you or your staff give to the sales process should be extended to a complaint. Also, as with after sales service, include an after complaint service to ensure that your complainant is satisfied with the resolution or at least as much of a resolution that you can provide. They will let you know if your actions are inadequate. The complaint process should be documented and tracked. It might be prudent to maintain a complaints register and perform trend analysis. It might also be prudent to manage the complaint process through Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software so that different staff can quickly familiarise themselves with a complainant and know what has already been offered to resolve the issue.
Complaints are part of doing business; same as doing a tax return. As with tax returns, you need to make sure that you correctly manage the complaint process or suffer the consequences.