Customer complaints can be difficult for hard working business owners to stomach… unfounded, unfair or unflattering, they cast your passion in a bad light and threaten to drive away customers, your income and your livelihood. But, negative feedback is something every company is going to receive from time to time, so rather than try to ward it off, why not welcome it in? Here’s why that’s not as crazy as it first sounds…
Customer complaints can be used to improve your service
You might be striving to improve your business by designing ever-better products or smarter marketing ideas, but how about taking direction from your customers? Negative reviews or sharp responses from a questionnaire (the likes of which you can create after Googling ‘Smart Survey Site’) can be really helpful as they’re honest, relevant and timely. Take a complaint and genuinely consider it with an open mind: could you be doing something better? How could you fix this fault? How can you prevent your other customers from feeling this way in future?
Customer complaints can be used to identify problem points in your business
Complaints delivered in a private forum (such as over the phone) are just as valuable as those delivered online or in feedback forms. For instance, if you notice an increase of telephone complaints during busy periods such as Christmas or Black Friday, it could mean that you need more staff or that your employees need better training. Keep a record of complaints and use them to your advantage by checking that the same problems don’t keep arising in the future.
Customer complaints can be valued as a sign of transparency
When shopping online, reviews hold a great deal of influence over new customers. However, that doesn’t mean you need to panic if your site features one or two bad pieces of feedback. Leave complaints on display in order to let customers see that they can they can trust the good reviews on there: studies have shown that bad reviews significantly increase conversion rates as shoppers know that site owners aren’t manipulating feedback.
Customer complaints are an opportunity to admit fault
A complaint is also a great opportunity to show humility and responsiveness. For example, if a customer’s package has arrived broken, respond with: “We’re very sorry that your item didn’t arrive safely. It’s substandard and we know you deserve better. Here’s what we’re doing for you now, and here’s how we’re going to stop this happening in the future…”. Being quick to offer an apology is worth a great deal to disgruntled customers.
Customer complaints are chance to practice service recovery
Finally, implanting an effective service recovery strategy could mean that your happiest customers might be the ones who make complaints. By dealing with a criticism in the right way and showing that you can learn from mistakes, you’ll be able to strengthen your relationship with your customer, transitioning them from a one-off shopper to someone who is loyal to your brand and happier than if they hadn’t had an issue in the first place.